Bronx, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The stage belonged to Masahiro Tanaka on Tuesday as the prized right-hander was introduced in the largest press conference the Yankees have held since Hideki Matusi's at Times Square in 2003.
"Hello, my name is Masahiro Tanaka," the newest Yankee said after putting on his No. 19 jersey. "I'm very happy to be a Yankee."
The Yankees inked the 25-year-old Japanese star to a seven-year, $155 million contract last month despite having never pitched in an MLB game. Tanaka recently received his visa, guaranteeing he will report to spring training on time.
"Our scouting on (Tanaka) was extensive. We put ourselves in position to evaluate the talent" said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. "Thankfully the Steinbrenner family put the Yankees in a position to bring him into Major League Baseball to test those abilities and be a part of a group of players and teammates that will hopefully make this town proud for the next number of years."
Tanaka was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 28 games (27 starts) last season for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan's Pacific League. He led Rakuten to it's first Japan Series title.
"When we sat down this winter after the season we knew we had to address a lot of areas. With me personally it starts with pitching. You can score a lot of runs, but if you don't have pitching you're gonna have a hard time winning on a consistent basis," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Tanaka will likely serve as the third starter in New York's rotation behind lefty C.C. Sabathia and fellow-Japanese hurler Hiroki Kuroda.
Tanaka said through a translator that his goal as a Yankee is to win a World Series.
He also said that he is looking forward to the heightened intensity of MLB games.
"Just by watching Yankees-Red Sox, you can see how intense the games are. I'm very much looking forward to that environment."
Tanaka will report to spring training on Friday when pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report.