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MLB roundup: Tanaka introduced as 'Yankee big'

The SportsXchange

The New York Yankees formally introduced pitcher Masahiro Tanaka on Tuesday, with general manager Brian Cashman saying "this is Yankee big, this is Steinbrenner big" during the televised portion of the press conference to fans who share those expectations.

Manager Joe Girardi handed Tanaka his No. 19 jersey and cap. The 25-year-old Tanaka, who speaks limited English, stepped to the podium. He arrived in New York with a seven-year, $155 million contract.

"When I take the mound, I feel that I would like to win every single game," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "Being an ace is something that not myself but the other people label. So basically what I want to do is go out there and compete and do my best."

Tanaka comes to the Yankees after going 24-0 in Japan last year, along with a 1.27 ERA.

Players coming from Japan have had to make the adjustment of gripping the heavier baseball in the major leagues, pitching every five days and carrying the weight of their country when taking the mound.

"That was pretty normal in Japan," Tanaka said. "I don't have regrets doing that. As for the ball, I'm going to have to adjust to that ball and I can't really overthink right now. That's the ball I'm going to be using and I just have to make the adjustment."

---The Houston Astros named Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan as the club's executive advisor, owner and chairman Jim Crane announced.

As part of his role, Ryan, 67, will serve as an advisor to Crane, general manager Jeff Luhnow and president of business operations Reid Ryan, Nolan's son.

Nolan Ryan, who is the all-time strikeout leader, has over 45 seasons of experience in baseball as a player and executive.

Ryan, citing a desire to spend more time on his ranch and with his family, stepped down as the chief executive officer of the Texas Rangers at the end of October.

---Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander threw about 20 pitches off the mound Monday for the first time since having surgery last month on his core muscle.

"I did throw off the mound yesterday," Verlander said Tuesday at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Fla. "Felt really good. Didn't feel anything in my groin, hip, nothing.

"My goal now is the start of the season. Whether that's Game 1, I don't know. But I intend on being ready."

Verlander injured his core doing squats in December. He originally felt pain on his left side, but an MRI also showed weakening on the right side, and he ended up having surgery in Philadelphia.

Verlander, who turns 31 on Feb. 20, said he plans to pitch in five spring training games.

Verlander went 13-12 with a 3.46 ERA last year in 34 starts and 218 1/3 innings last season. He has thrown more than 200 innings in seven straight seasons.

---After 13 major league seasons, pitcher Roy Oswalt has decided to retire.

The three-time All-Star ended his career with the Colorado Rockies, pitching in nine games (including six starts) and posting a 0-6 record with an 8.63 ERA.

The 36-year-old Oswald compiled a 163-102 career record with a 3.36 ERA in 2,245 1/3 innings spanning 365 games with the Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers and Rockies. His 150 wins from 2001 to 2010 led the majors.

Injuries took their toll on Oswalt the past few seasons, leading to a decrease in velocity, and he could not find any teams interesting in signing him for the 2014 season.

---Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels is no longer pursuing a defamation lawsuit against Jack Clark after the former major leaguer took back what he said last year about Pujols using performance-enhancing drugs.

"I have accepted Jack Clark's retraction and apology to resolve my lawsuit against him and clear my name," Pujols said in a statement.

Pujols has denied using performance-enhancing drugs.

---Pitcher Randy Wolf agreed to a minor-league contract with the Seattle Mariners that includes an invitation to spring training.

The 37-year-old Wolf missed the 2013 season after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery in September 2012. Wolf, a starter throughout his career, is willing to shift to the bullpen as tries to make a comeback, The Seattle Times reported.
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