Masahiro Tanaka charters a Boeing 787 Dreamliner for five people and a dog

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Brian Cashman referred to Masahiro Tanaka as the Yankees’ third starter the other day. Not all third starters are created equal, of course. I mean, I doubt Tyler Chatwood does this:

Japanese baseball sensation Masahiro Tanaka chartered his own Boeing 787 Dreamliner to fly him to New York, with the entire plane taken up by his five-strong party and his pet dog.

The ace pitcher, who has just signed a seven-year MLB deal worth $US155 million ($A173.6 million) with the New York Yankees, is believed to have splashed out $US195,000 ($A218,000) of his own money on the one-way flight.

The dog, by the way, was not some large, fierce Kazak-like space hound that required sequestration. It’s a brown toy poodle. Seriously. So why the expense?

Tanaka paid for the plane so he could take part in the team’s camp “in the best of form”, a Japanese baseball official who accompanied him reportedly said.

Masahiro Tanka is in The Best Form of His Life.

(Thanks to Jonathan for the heads up)

Video: Gift Ngoepe singles in his first major league at-bat

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Pirates infielder Gift Ngoepe, just called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, singled in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday evening against Cubs starter Jon Lester. It was a well-struck ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for him, the Pirates could not bring him around to score.

Ngoepe, who was pinch-hitting, stayed in the game to play second base.

Shelby Miller getting third opinion on elbow from Dr. James Andrews

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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday due to inflammation in his right elbow. He had a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday and is currently awaiting a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports reports. That he’s getting a third opinion seems to imply that Miller’s elbow issue is rather serious.

Miller, 26, hasn’t been able to catch a break since joining the Diamondbacks. Last year’s nightmarish season included a finger injury stemming from mechanical woes and a brief demotion to the minor leagues. In 20 starts in the majors last year, Miller posted an ugly 6.15 ERA. This year, his ERA is a mediocre 4.09 over four starts.

The Diamondbacks called up Zack Godley to take Miller’s spot in the rotation. There was some speculation that it would be Archie Bradley instead, but he’s been working out of the bullpen.