TAMPA, Fla. -- I spoke with Masahiro Tanaka to find out more about the 25-year-old, $155 million man. With the help of his translator, Shingo Horie, Tanaka spoke about his love for golf, his inability to play basketball and how he is not a fan of his wife's music. Plus, he explains how he handles big moments on the mound.
Q: What other sports did you play besides baseball as a kid?
A: PE? Does that count?
A: PE classes, I took it really seriously.
Q: Was there another sport besides baseball that you played a lot?
A: I feel I’m pretty good all around, besides basketball.
Q: So you're not good at basketball?
A: No sense.
Q: Who was your favorite athlete growing up?
A: I really didn’t have one particular athlete I liked growing up.
Q: Were there a few you liked watching?
A: When I was in high school I liked watching Kazumi Saito.
Q: Why Saito?
A: The pitching style he had. His fastballs were really fast. His determination for the game was something special. He was a fighter.
Q: How about an American athlete?
A: Not really.
Q: Favorite actor?
A: I’m not really into movies so I don’t have one.
Q: What do you like to do away from the field?
Q: What type of handicap are you?
A: I’m not good at all [laughing]. I’d probably [score] about 100.
Q: When did you first start playing?
A: Offseason of 2007.
Q: So seven years.
A: It is only been seven or eight years. I only play in the offseason. I have to get better at that sport.
Q: Is Tiger Woods your favorite or somebody else?
A: I watch golf, just looking at the pros and I’m in awe of how they play. Not one particular player, maybe all the players.
Q: What did your parents do?
A: They are retired right now. They worked at a regular company.
Q: What did you learn from them?
A: I’m thankful to my parents. Obviously, I’m here because of my parents. I felt that my parents were not really very strict, but I feel they told me the "dos" and the "don'ts" very well.
Q: What is your favorite type of music?
A: Pop music from Japan.
Q: Your wife's?
A: Not necessarily my wife’s music. I’m not necessarily a fan of my wife’s music [laughing].
Q: Three dinner guests from now or history, who would they be?
A: It is really hard to come up with somebody because it is unrealistic. I really can’t think of anyone. Sorry [in English and smiling].
Q: No problem. Let’s go back to baseball, when did you start throwing your splitter?
A: Probably 2010.
Q: When did you know, "Wow, this is a really good pitch?"
A: When I first pitched in the bullpen, I knew right away.
Q: What is the most pressure you felt on the mound?
A: Probably would be the WBC game last year, would definitely be one of them and also the Japan Series, pitching in that game would be one of the most pressured ones for me.
Q: The Yankees liked how you handle pressure. They felt you threw your fastball a little bit harder when you needed to. What do you do in those moments?
A: Every game is the same for me. I just go into a game and try to look at the situation and what needs to be done. I try to execute.
Q: What was the first thing you bought after you signed your Yankees contract?
Q: Plane ride?
A: It probably might be that. The plane ride from Japan to New York.
A: Thank you.