Masahiro Tanaka says a repeat of his remarkable 24-0 record, achieved with the Rakuten Golden Eagles last season, can be repeated with the New York Yankees.
The right-hander has got his major league career off to a perfect start with a 3-0 record and a 2.15 ERA.
Many expected Tanaka to struggle with the Yankees in his first season, but he has so far struck out 35 and walked two in his first four starts.
He now admits that, despite being unlikely, going unbeaten in his first season with the Yankees is not beyond the realms of possibility.
"Honestly, it's hard to say. But the percentage I would say is not zero percent," Tanaka told ESPNNewYork.com through a translator.
"I say this because I go on the mound to try to beat the other team every single time. ... So I don't want to look at it as something that's impossible to do.
"If there's a possibility, I want to go towards that. ... Every time I take the mound, I try to win. So that's what I'm trying to do. And I fully understand how difficult of a task (24-0) would be."
A number of Yankees figures have come out in praise for Tanaka, who signed a seven-year, $175m contract in the offseason, in response to his seamless transition across the Pacific.
"Nobody expected him out of the gate to be this dominant," general manager Brian Cashman said. "But it already feels like he's been here a long time. He has no fear of anything, and nothing seems too big for him."
Asked whether anything in the American game has fazed him so far, particularly David Ortiz's slow rounding of the bases after his home run on Tuesday, Tanaka stayed professional as always.
"As far as David Ortiz going around the bases, taking time to do that," the pitcher said, "I honestly don't think anything about that. ... (There are) not too many obstacles I look at. Maybe the part that I'm not able to speak English."
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