10th quake anniv. motivated pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to return to Japan

New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) throws against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning in Game 3 of a baseball American League Division Series, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

mainichi– Former New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka said Saturday he was motivated to return to Japan in 2021 partly because it is the 10th year since the area surrounding the Rakuten Eagles’ Sendai home base was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami.

Tanaka is returning to the Eagles, whom he led to the 2013 Japan Series championship before signing a seven-year contract with the Yankees.

“This is the 10th year since the disaster, but also the first year I’ve been a free agent with the ability to choose my future. For me, that 10 years was a big number and a significant one,” Tanaka said.

“Regarding the disaster and how I might help people in the region, I want to do my best so badly. There may be many things I can do, and I want to do whatever I can. To start with, I want to do a good job on the mound.”