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)

Erasmo Ramirez to be shut down with a minor lat strain

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Mariners right-hander Erasmo Ramirez has been shut down for two weeks with a minor lat strain, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. It’s a precautionary move, as Ramirez felt some tightness in his arm and could not complete his scheduled bullpen session on Saturday.

There’s no word yet on whether Ramirez will be able to recover in time for the start of the season, though he’s expected to claim a rotation spot again this spring. The 28-year-old righty has been dogged by injuries throughout his six-year career, but finally managed to piece together a full season on the mound in back-to-back stints with the Rays and Mariners in 2017. He went 5-6 in 19 starts for the two clubs and turned in a cumulative 4.39 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 through 131 1/3 innings.

The Mariners are no stranger to pitcher injuries, either. They lost a number of their top arms to various elbow, arm and shoulder injuries last year and cycled through 40 total pitchers as they limped toward a 78-84 finish. Comments from club manager Scott Servais indicate that the team will keep a close eye on Ramirez throughout his recovery, though Divish notes that right-hander Andrew Moore and lefty Ariel Miranda could also slot into the no. 5 spot if Ramirez experiences further setbacks.