It’s been said many, many times already, and this probably won’t be the last time that you read it, but the nonchalant manner in which Masahiro Tanaka goes about his business makes it easier to understand why he’s made his transition from Japan to the U.S. look so seamless.
He’ll face a loaded Los Angeles Angels lineup tonight in a nationally televised game on ESPN, but he simply shrugged off questions about how he’ll handle the big stage.
“It doesn’t change my approach to the game,” he said. “As being a professional, I just have to do my job.”
It’s probably fair to say that Tanaka will have the advantage against most teams in the first couple of months of the season because these hitters haven’t seen him yet, and he acknowledged taking notice of how each batter reacts to certain pitches.
“I feel it’s important to look at the reaction of the batter. According to that, I decide on the next pitch,” he said. “I try to go with what the wants, but in certain situations if I know what I want to pitch, I go with that.”
There are some big names in the Angels’ lineup, most notably Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, but Tanaka said that he doesn’t pay much attention to that. He said that he watches film before each start, but he doesn’t seem to get caught up in the hype of pitching against a big name.
“I’ve been playing in Japan for the last seven years, so to be honest with you, I don’t know much about the batters (in the states),” he said. “You can tell that they’re really good batters, but the truth is, I haven’t had a chance to face them yet.”
Associated Press photo