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Mike Napoli on Masahiro Tanaka throwing him fastball ‘what an idiot!’ (Video)

Mike Napoli was the hero of Saturday night’s Red Sox-Yankees game after breaking a 1-1 tie in the 9th with a solo home run to right field to give the Sox a lead in an eventual 2-1 victory.

Mike NapoliNapoli was caught by FOX microphones saying “what an idiot!” repeatedly as he entered the Boston dugout following his home run. Napoli was saying that because he couldn’t believe Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka threw him a fastball instead of his deadly, signature splitter.

After throwing a first-pitch ball to Napoli, he got ahead 1-2 with a slider and splitter that fooled the Red Sox first baseman. He then threw a 1-2 fastball up and away that Napoli lined over the short porch in right at Yankee Stadium.

Napoli talked with FOX’s Ken Rosenthal about his comment that was caught on camera.

“Nothing toward him. I thought he was going to throw me a split in the dirt. He had been getting me out all night on it,” said Napoli.

You better believe that next time Tanaka faces Napoli, he’s just going to be feeding him a steady diet of splitters. No way he ever sees another fastball from Tanaka again.

Adam Jones: Masahiro Tanaka should be asked about facing me, not other way around

Masahiro-Tanaka-YankeesBaltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones seems legitimately offended by the hype surrounding New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. As many of you know, Tanaka was a perfect 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in Japan last season. The Yankees liked what they saw enough to sign him to a $155 million contract. Jones is not impressed.

Prior to Wednesday’s Yankees-O’s game, Jones was asked if he has any thoughts on facing Tanaka. He seemed like he had rehearsed for the question.

“Why don’t you ask Tanaka about me? I’m the one who’s been over here in the major leagues for a while,” Jones said, per Steven Marcus of Newsday. “Congratulations, he did it over there. Don’t make it like he’s the dirtiest guy in the world. He was 24-0-in Japan.

“At the end of the day, we’ve got to judge it off major-league hitters, not the Japanese hitters. We’re a little bit better over here as hitters…”

Jones faced Tanaka three times on Wednesday, striking out twice and hitting a single. Tanaka ended up with a no decision after pitching seven solid innings of seven-hit, three-run ball and striking out 10. Jones was equally annoyed when asked about the righthander after his team’s 5-4 win over New York.

“Am I [supposed] to go home and say I faced Tanaka tonight?” he asked, according to Newday’s Anthony Rieber. “Just go throw a party that I faced Tanaka? It’s another pitcher. Another pitcher in the rotation. Nothing special to me. It’s just another guy that we have to go through to get to where we want to be.”

When you put up those kinds of numbers and sign a $155 million contract, you’re going to get all kinds of publicity — no matter what country you came from. Jones has been in the league long enough to know that.

H/T NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty

Masahiro Tanaka allows home run to first batter in major league debut (GIF)

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The New York Yankees were the big winners of the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes, signing 25-year-old Japanese starting pitcher to a seven-year, $155 million contract in January.

On Friday, the Yankees got their first look at their prized import in a game that mattered. The Toronto Blue Jays, with a lineup that included sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, were the opposition.

masahiro-tanaka-first-batterBefore Masahiro Tanaka faced either of them for the first time, Toronto already had a run on the scoreboard. Blue Jays lead-off hitter Melky Cabrera homered on Tanaka’s third pitch of the game.

How’s that for a welcoming to a new league?

Tanaka went on to pitch seven innings, allowing six hits, no walks, and two earned runs while striking out eight. Overall, not a bad first time out.

Yu Darvish forced to issue statement after joke about Masahiro Tanaka is taken seriously

Yu DarvishYu Darvish was moved to make a statement on Tuesday after a joke he cracked about Masahiro Tanaka’s contract was taken the wrong way.

Darvish, who finished second in AL Cy Young voting last season, joked with the media that the Yankees paid Tanaka too much money.

“Well, I don’t know much about the new posting system, but I think the Yankees gave him a little too much money,” he joked via the Dallas Morning News.

Darvish signed with the Texas Rangers for $60 million over six years before the 2012 season. The Rangers paid the Nippon-Ham Fighters nearly $52 million as a posting fee for the right to negotiate with him. The Yankees paid Tanaka $155 million over seven years and were able to pay him more money directly because of changes to the Japanese posting fees system.

Even though it was pretty clear that Darvish was joking, sometimes quotes get taken out of context, leaving athletes to do damage control. Darvish clarified via Twitter and then released a statement through the Rangers.

Here’s the statement he released:

“I am sorry if anyone took my comment seriously about Masahiro Tanaka at the press conference today,” Darvish said in the statement. “I assumed by the reaction in the room that everyone knew I was joking.”

That sound you hear is a collective groan that something actually came of such an innocent comment.

Masahiro Tanaka signs with Yankees for seven years, $155 million

Masahiro TanakaJapanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has never thrown a pitch in an MLB game, but he is already the fifth-highest paid starting pitcher in league history. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Tanaka has signed a seven-year, $155 million contract with the New York Yankees.

A report last week indicated that the Chicago Cubs were prepared to “blow away the field” to sign Tanaka, but that was apparently not the case. Tanaka’s contract with the Yankees also reportedly includes an opt-out after the fourth year, similar to the deal they worked out with CC Sabathia. New York will also have to pay a $20 million posting fee.

Tanaka’s contract is the fifth richest for a pitcher in MLB history, behind only Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez and Sabathia.

The Yankees are in need of starting pitching and obviously decided to make Tanaka a priority. We knew they had extra money to spend after letting Robinson Cano leave, and — while risky — Tanaka makes sense. He posted a 24-0 record and a 1.27 ERA in Japan last season. While former Rakuten Golden Eagles teammate Andruw Jones said Tanaka does not have the same arsenal as Yu Darvish, he is obviously very effective at getting hitters out.

Andruw Jones: Masahiro Tanaka can overpower but is not like Yu Darvish

Masahiro TanakaMasahiro Tanaka is one of the most intriguing players this offseason. The Japanese pitcher went 24-0 in 2013 and is coming over to MLB after a long period of questions about whether his Japanese team would post him. Many Japanese pitchers have been successful since coming over — Yu Darvish, Hiroki Kuroda and Hideo Nomo are a few examples — while guys like Hideki Irabu, Kaz Ishii, and to some extent Dice-K Matsuzaka, have had struggles.

Though many expect Tanaka to be an impact pitcher, everyone wonders how well he will do. Former MLB player Andruw Jones was Tanaka’s teammate for Rakuten in Japan last season and compared Tanaka to Darvish, who was a Cy Young contender with the Texas Rangers.

Jones says the two are different types of pitchers, though he expects Tanaka to be successful.

“He didn’t strike a lot of people out like Darvish,” Jones told the New York Post. “He pitched more to contact. He wanted to get guys to hit balls on the ground.

“He can overpower and he can control,” Jones said. “He’s a very competitive guy.”

Jones also believes that Tanaka has proved his is ready for MLB after being the best pitcher in Japan the past two years. He thinks the first year will be tough because it’s an adjustment, but he believes Tanaka has a “good chance” to be successful.

Tanaka should be expected to succeed. Though his strikeouts might not compare to Darvish, he still posted a 1.27 ERA in two of the past three seasons in Japan. He only allowed 10 home runs in 385 innings of the past two seasons. He may not have the same arsenal that Darvish does and, let’s be real, very few people in the world do, but it sure looks like he’s an expert at getting people out.

Cubs reportedly prepared to ‘blow away the field’ to sign Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro TanakaMasahiro Tanaka is a player who has been widely discussed over the past several months as the next big superstar to join Major League Baseball from Japan. Early reports after the season ended indicated that the New York Yankees were the team to beat when it comes to bidding on Tanaka. The Chicago Cubs have since taken on that role.

On Thursday morning, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Cubs were “pushing hard” for Tanaka to beat out other interested teams that include the Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers. ESPN’s Jayson Stark took it a step further later on Thursday.

Tanaka was dominant last season in Japan, posting a 24-0 record and a 1.27 ERA with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. The posting fee for his services was initially expected to be in the $75 million range (50% more than the Boston Red Sox paid for Daisuke Matsuzaka and Texas Rangers paid for Yu Darvish), but a recent deal reached between MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball has capped that number at $20 million.

The common belief is that Tanaka will sign a contract that is somewhere around the $120 to $140 million range, meaning he could cost a team around $150 or $160 million when you factor in the posting fee. The team that shells the money out can only hope his effectiveness is comparable to Darvish, not Matsuzaka

H/T Hardball Talk