Mashiro Tanaka is his name, and the Red Sox will face the New York Yankees’ prized free agent Tuesday night at Fenway for the first time.
Jacoby Ellsbury certainly is familiar to Red Sox fans. Ellsbury, who did not receive an offer from Boston and took a seven-year, $153 million deal with the Yankees, will be announced to the Fenway crowd.
Tanaka’s and Ellsbury’s deals are worth about $310 million.
“Anxious to see him,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said about Tanaka. “He’s been a highly talked-about pitcher from Japan. The thing that impresses you is how quickly he’s acclimated to the major leagues from a different culture.”
Farrell has experience with that in his time as Daisuke Matsuzaka’s pitching coach. Farrell went through some major growing pains with Matsuzaka, and some of them were extremely frustrating.
Tanaka has had no such issues so far. He has 28 strikeouts, a Yankees record for a pitcher making his first three major league starts. He shut out the Chicago Cubs in his last outing.
“I think we approach him like any pitcher,” first baseman Mike Napoli said. “We’ll study the video and look for his tendencies with our scouting reports. And then you just go up there and face him and kind of feel your way around it. Sometimes you’re going to be able to pick up the ball better than other guys. You really don’t know until you face him.”
Tanaka, who has a 2.05 ERA, told reporters he used to watch the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry back in Japan.
“I’ve seen the two teams play, and I understand there is a certain rivalry between the two teams going into the game,” Tanaka told MLB.com through an interpreter. “I’m sure the fans will be heated up a bit, and it should be a good experience going up on the mound that day. I’m very much looking forward to it.”
Ellsbury doesn’t seem too concerned about fans booing. He has always seemed to tune things out very well.
“I’m not going to think about it too much, because it’s out of my hands,” he said. “I gave [that] organization everything I had every time I stepped on the field.”
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington gave Ellsbury his World Series ring last week in the Bronx.
“I always enjoyed playing there [at Fenway], I had a great time, my time being a Red Sock,” Ellsbury said. “I still have a lot of friends over there. I’m looking forward to it. I’ll have some family there as well.
“You can’t think about what [the fans] are going to do. In this game, you can really only focus on what you can do, not worry about all that other stuff that you can’t control.
“We’ll see what happens. I gave the organization everything I had for a third of my life. Nine years in an organization — drafted by them, came up, and won two World Series. I left it all on the field.”
Red Sox players had no interest in offering any opinion on how the fans would treat Ellsbury.
Outfield shift ahead
Daniel Nava had two infield hits to raise his average to .149. Nava is still in the mix as a possible demotion to Pawtucket when Shane Victorino returns from his rehab assignment. Victorino played in a rehab game Monday with Pawtucket and may get one more start in Triple A before returning to Boston during the Yankees series . . . Brock Holt collected a hit for the fourth straight game since his promotion . . . Red Sox relievers allowed just one run over 6⅔ innings. Over the last 11 games, Sox relievers have allowed just five runs over 35⅔ innings, and the team’s bullpen ERA for the season is 2.20 . . . Burke Badenhop pitched a season-high 3⅔ innings and induced three double-play grounders. “He saved us actually,” Farrell said. “When you’re asking the bullpen to go 6⅓, 6⅔ and they give up one run, they had a very good day.” . . . When asked about Clay Buchholz’s reduced velocity this season, catcher David Ross said, “I’m the wrong guy to ask. I really don’t pay too much attention to velocity. I go by how I feel the guy is throwing that day, the movement, the impact of the pitches. Velocity isn’t high on my list of things to look for if someone is going good or bad.” . . . Napoli is hitting .293 (12 for 41) with two homers and seven RBIs at Fenway this season . . . The Red Sox are 10-4 in their last 14 games on Patriots Day . . . Attendance was 37,513, a sellout . . . Tuesday’s game against the Yankees will be televised on NESN Plus.Nick Cafardo can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.