Masahiro Tanaka could arrive in the United States as early as Sunday after obtaining a work visa that will allow him to report to spring training on time. Yankees pitchers and catchers report to camp in Tampa on February 14 and Tanaka expects to be among them. His first workout as a Yankee will come on the 15th before the rest of the team reports for spring training on the 19th.
New York Senator Chuck Schumer helped to expedite the visa process for Tanaka in order to get him to spring training on time. Without Schumer's help it's possible that the application process for the visa Tanaka needs to pitch in the United States might have taken a month. Schumer came through on a similar request from the Mets when Jose Reyes needed a work visa in the past.
The Japanese right-hander has been working out in Sendai, Japan while awaiting his move to the United States and the beginning of spring training. Tanaka says that he feels like he is currently in better shape than he has been in past years, which might make him the first Yankee to claim that he's in the best shape of his life this offseason. All eyes will be on the 25-year-old that the Yankees felt was deserving of a seven-year, $155 million deal without having ever thrown a pitch in MLB. Seeing how the talent he displayed in Japan will translate to playing in the United States will be interesting to watch, and the wait to see him in a Yankee uniform is almost over.