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Tanaka says he isn’t thinking about ability to opt out

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    New York Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka, of Japan, pitches to the Tampa Bay Rays during the sixth inning of a baseball game in St. Petersburg, Fla.

TAMPA, Fla. >> New York Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka says he is not thinking about his opt-out provision.

Tanaka’s $155 million, seven-year contract allows him to terminate the deal after this season, give up a $23 million annual salary from 2018-20 and become a free agent.

“It’s something that I put aside going into the season,” Tanaka said Wednesday through a translator. “Can’t be really thinking about that while you go through the season, really focus on this season and when the time comes after the season, then I’ll probably have a chance to think about that more.”

Tanaka arrived at the Yankees’ minor league complex Monday for pre-spring training workouts, and the 28-year-old right-hander threw off a bullpen mound Wednesday.

“Felt better than I thought I would be,” Tanaka said. “I went out there and I think I was able to throw with some force. Felt good about where I’m at now. I feel that I’m a little bit ahead of schedule compared to last year.”

Tanaka was a concern at the start of spring training last year after arthroscopic surgery in October 2015 to remove a bone spur from his throwing elbow. He went 14-4 with a 3.07 ERA in 31 starts.

Tanaka had planned to pitch for Japan in the World Baseball Classic next month but decided not to participate.

“I had to take into consideration a lot of things,” he said. “It was more of I was able to go through a whole season finally last year, and I understand what the team is looking for from me.”

Tanaka is 39-16 with a 3.12 ERA over 75 starts in three seasons with the Yankees. He was limited to 44 starts over his first two seasons due to injuries.

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