12/17/2013

Masahiro Tanaka Q&A after meeting with team president



Q&A after meeting between Masahiro Tanaka and Rakuten Eagles President Yozo Tachibana
December 17, 2013
(via Nikkan Sports)
Tanaka: I report to you that today, I told the team representative that I wish to have the opportunity to play in MLB next season. I am grateful to President Tachibana for making time for me amid his busy schedule.

Q: You wish to play in the major leagues. What words did you use to communicate your passion?
Tanaka: Well, first, it’s been seven years since I joined the team, and I expressed my gratitude for what the Rakuten Eagles have done for me and for developing me. I also expressed my wish to have the opportunity to test my abilities on a new stage.

Q: How did President Tachibana respond?

Tanaka: We’ve talked many times before, but the official agreement on the posting system came today, so he said, “Let me hold on to those words [before I respond].”

Q: So, no conclusion was reached today?
Tanaka: That’s correct.

Q: Did you experience any inner conflict while waiting for the new posting system to become official?
Tanaka: There was nothing I could do until the system became official, so I didn’t think about it.

Q: Did they make a direct request for you to stay?
Tanaka: That’s always been the main premise in our discussions, and they have told me: “We want you to stay.” But I communicated my feelings after taking that into consideration.

Q: Are you truly set in your intentions?
Tanaka: Well… I communicated [the request] as my wish.

Q: Last year, you talked about wanting to move [leagues] in the future. Did your feelings ever change?
Tanaka: My feelings never changed in that I want to have the opportunity at some point. When the season ended and I started to think about next season, I knew that I want to test my abilities on a new stage.

Q: What was the team’s response? What does it feel like [their decision will be]?
Tanaka: They listened to me with great empathy, and we will continue to talk about many things. I hope we can continue with the good, solid communication.

Q: Considering the start date of Spring Training, that doesn’t leave much time.
Tanaka: Well, the new system only became official today, so I don’t know.

Q: When will you have the next meeting with the team?
Tanaka: We haven’t talked about that yet.

Q: You said the team has shown empathy. Does it seem like they will grant your wish?
Tanaka: That I don’t know. It’s not as though a conclusion was reached today. We will continue to have conversations.

Q: Will you continue to press for your wish?
Tanaka: “Press” isn't really the right word. I will continue to say what I feel, and the team has been telling me to be clear about how I feel. After all, it’s a discussion.

Q: You talked about a “new stage.” What will it mean for you to go to the major leagues?
Tanaka: What will it mean? Well, it hasn't been decided that I will go. Of course, that is what I want, but let’s wait until after it’s official.

Q: Until today, when the system became official, there were probably times when you could not say how you felt. Was that ever hard for you?
Tanaka: That was not something I had any control over. I knew that everything would be said after the system became official.

Q: Your team won its first championship. Was that a factor in your decision?
Tanaka: Yes, I think that was part of it.

Q: You’re still young. Do you want to test yourself in MLB while you’re still young?
Tanaka: That’s not the entire reason, but it is a factor.

Q: What is your reason for wanting to go this year, rather than two years later as a free agent?
Tanaka: After taking various things into consideration… it would be strange for me to be the one to talk about timing, but that’s how I feel. [I made my decision] after taking everything into consideration.

Q: What will you do about an agent?
Tanaka: I’ve said all along that everything will happen after the system is official. (My agent) is another thing that I hope to choose as things move forward.

Q: How is your physical maintenance going?
Tanaka: It’s absolutely going better than I thought it would.

Q: When would you like to see a conclusion?
Tanaka: I haven’t thought about that. [It’s a matter of reaching an] acceptable [decision], as we continue to talk.

Q: What is your reaction to the fact that the new system allows the player to choose his new team?
Tanaka: It’s not my place to say this or that about the system. I’d like to refrain from commenting on it.

Q: Is there any MLB team you want play for? Any teams you have special admiration for?
Tanaka: No, not really.

Q: Any preference in terms of west coast or east coast?
Tanaka: Like I said, I have no particular preference.

Q: What are the chances you will stay with Rakuten?
Tanaka: I don’t think I would ever talk about that. The posting system is based on the team’s rights, so if the team says, “We’re not going to post you. Stay with us,” then as a professional, giving maximum effort and playing there again – that’s what a professional would do, and I’m prepared to do that.

Q: Repeating as Japan Series champions – that seems like a worthy goal. Would your feelings waver?
Tanaka: No.

Q: What do you want to tell your fans?
Tanaka: I’m nothing but grateful. Ever since I turned pro as a kid just out of high school, the fans had kind words for me. I always heard their cheers. Late in games, when things start to get tough, the energy in the ballpark would swell up – things like that and fans’ cheers gave me a lot of strength. Rakuten Eagles fans have really helped me grow. I think about that often.

Q: How do you feel about your teammates?
Tanaka: How do I feel about them? Well, we battled together this year, and I think they’re the greatest teammates. As I always say, I’m grateful to them, and not just my teammates but team personnel as well – I am where I am today because of their support. Since I entered the professional league, I’ve been given the opportunity to meet many people, and some of them are no longer in the league, but I received help from everyone. I’m also grateful to my teammates.

Q: Did you consult with anyone before you made your decision?
Tanaka: Who would I consult? My wife understands [and supports] how I feel.


(from Daily Sports)
Q: How did you communicate your intentions in the meeting?
Tanaka: For seven years since I joined the team, the Rakuten Eagles have done a lot for me and helped me develop. I expressed my gratitude for that. I told the team that I would like to have the opportunity to take on challenges in a new setting.

Q: What was the team’s response?
Tanaka: They said they want some time before responding.

Q: Does that mean they asked you to stay?
Tanaka: That’s always been the premise in our discussions. I communicated my feelings having taken that into consideration.

Q: When did you become sure that you want to take on the challenge of MLB?
Tanaka: I always hoped to have the opportunity at some point. After the season ended this year and I started to think about next season, I knew that I want to take on challenges in a new setting.

Q: What was the team’s response?
Tanaka: They were very empathetic, and we were able to have a discussion that covered many things.

Q: Spring training for MLB teams starts in February, so that doesn’t leave much time.
Tanaka: It’s not as though a conclusion was reached today. We will have more conversations.

Q: There is still quite some time before you hit free agency. Do you want to go to MLB at the youngest age possible?
Tanaka: That’s not the entire reason, but it is a factor.

Q: What do you want to tell your fans?
Tanaka: I’m nothing but grateful. Ever since I turned pro as a kid just out of high school, the fans were always supportive and rooted for me, even when I gave up many hits with the big club. Their cheers gave me a lot of strength. The Rakuten Eagles fans also helped me grow.



Rakuten Eagles President Yozo Tachibana Q&A December 17, 2013
(from Mainichi)

Q: What was your response to hearing Tanaka’s wish?
Tachibana: First I told him that he did a truly great job for us this year. I told him we want him to stay next year and onward, since he is a very important part of our team’s ability to compete and we want him to be part of our attempt to repeat as champions. When I heard that he wants to go overseas, I said that’s not something I can decide on my own, so I asked him to wait.

Q: Tanaka seems very sure about his decision.
Tachibana: The fact that he expressed his wish to the team means that he obviously gave it a lot of serious thought. I can see how much it means to him.

Q: Will the team stick to asking him to stay?
Tachibana: Until the very end, that will always be our highest priority. It’s a matter of feelings, so we don’t know how things will change, so… I do know that we need to give an answer to the request he made today.

Q: Is it possible the team will not utilize the new system, as part of its rights?
Tachibana: That is one option we are considering.

Q: Will you have conversations about the new system?
Tachibana: It’s not really a matter of negotiating with Tanaka. We will decide whether or not to use the system. If we decide not to, there will be no negotiation. He is a professional, and even if he ends up staying next year, I'm sure he will perform like he did this year.


(from Nikkan Sports)

Yozo Tachibana, President of the Rakuten Eagles, on the new posting system: “To be honest, we don’t understand everything about it. We have some doubts about it, so we are inquiring with NPB.”


(from Daily Sports)
Q: What did you talk about with Tanaka?
Tachibana: I started by telling him that the team is very happy with the great job he did for us. I told him we want him to stay, since he is a very important part of our team’s ability to compete.

Q: But Tanaka told you he wants to go to MLB.
Tachibana: It’s not a decision I can make alone on the spot, so I asked him to wait for our response.

Q: Tanaka seems very sure that he wants to try his hand in MLB.
Tachibana: We need to give that a lot of consideration and face that with sincerity.

Q: The new system seems to be an obstacle.
Tachibana: We still don’t have a view of the entire system. It seems similar to free agency.

Q: What is your deadline for a conclusion?
Tachibana: We need to reach a conclusion as soon as possible.

Q: Will your next conversation be the last?
Tachibana: I don’t know.
 

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