LONDON – Masahiro Tanaka said Friday he is “honored” to start the first MLB game held in Europe, when the New York Yankees face the Boston Red Sox in London this weekend.
“It’s going to be a historic day for Major League Baseball. I’m extremely honored to be able to take the mound and pitch,” the right-hander told reporters on the eve of his start at London Stadium.
The two American League East teams will bring their rivalry to London Stadium, the main venue of the 2012 Summer Olympics. Right-hander Rick Porcello, who is 5-7 so far this season, will start the first of the two-game series for the defending World Series champions.
The stadium, now the home of the Premier League’s West Ham United, has undergone a transformation to host the series, including installing artificial turf. It has a larger foul territory and a shorter center field than the ballparks in the United States.
Tanaka, who is 5-5 in his sixth season with the Yankees, tested the mound prior to the Yankees workout on Friday.
“There is always a first time playing at any stadium, so I’m not concerned,” the 30-year-old said. “The most important thing is to be myself and compete.”