“You could see from day one he’s kind of a different animal. He’s unbelievably competitive. The jury is out on how many pitches he has, but he’s got at least three that are weapons, not just pitches he uses here and there. He can lean on any one of his fastball-slider-split at any time… His forkball is the best one I’ve seen. A lot of guys over there throw one. He’s the one guy that was able to manipulate it and have it do what he wanted. He could throw it for strikes. He could take speed off of it. He could throw it harder. He could bounce it. He was really special with that pitch. Whoever gets him…it’s going to be money well spent.”
Casey McGehee, recently signed by the Miami Marlins, on what he saw as a teammate of Masahiro Tanaka in Japan. (Juan C. Rodriguez, Sun Sentinel)

“He pitches like Jose Fernandez, I think [Tanaka] has similar stuff and similar competitiveness. He is battle-proven, and there is nothing you wouldn’t like about him. He would be a credit to anybody’s staff… His split-fingered fastball is the best in the world… The mounds are a big adjustment for guys coming over from Japan because the mounds over there are soft. That is a big adjustment.”
—Former Red Sox and Mets manager Bobby Valentine, on Tanaka’s chances when moving to the big leagues. Valentine managed Chiba Lotte in the Japanese Pacific League during Tanaka’s first three seasons in Japan. (Mike Puma, New York Post)

“This year he was a completely different pitcher from the times I've faced him in the past. He was a lot more polished. His split went from being you could see it coming to now it looked just like a fastball and then all of a sudden it goes straight down.”
—Former Mets and Royals first baseman Craig Brazell, who has played six years in Japan and faced Tanaka. Brazell played this past season for Chiba Lotte. (Jim Baumbach, Long Island News)

“To be honest with you, this year he looked bored. He looked bored at times. It's kind of the way Darvish pitched his last year in Japan. He needed a new challenge.”


“He was pitched inside, because he had a tendency to chase in there. And if a pitcher got him to chase inside early in the count, he would just expand that zone to see how far it could go. By two strikes, they had it pretty wide and would come in even more. So the key is to get Starling to not chase those inside pitches early in the count, then pitchers will have to find a different way to go after him if they do get two strikes on him.”
Pittsburgh Pirates batting coach Jeff Branson, on helping Starling Marte avoid getting hit by so many pitches. (Tom Singer,

“We've got to help him find a way to evade pitches. He's not getting out of the way. His movements in the box are completely reactionary. But evading pitches clearly has not been one of his strengths.”
—Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, on Marte’s ability to avoid pitches. (Tom Singer,


“We use the term ‘good fit’ a lot when we look at players to add, but in this case, it was the perfect fit. His skill set, his personality and his personal goals line up with ours and what our club needed. He's been one of the most productive offensive players in the game. I'm not sure the casual fan realizes that. But he creates run-scoring opportunities for himself and others.”
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, on the recently signed Shin-Soo Choo. (Evan Grant, The Dallas Morning News)

“He’s going to be the type of guy who will make up a good combination with the other catchers we’ve got. I would say he could get the bulk of the innings, but that will be decided as we go, depending on what Fryer and Pinto and Herr­mann do.”
Twins general manager Terry Ryan, discussing new catcher Kurt Suzuki’s role with the team. (La Velle E. Neal III, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“We felt the need to have a right-handed bat with some power and somebody who could play the corners. He’s been very effective against left-handed pitching.”
—Royals general manager Dayton Moore, on signing Danny Valencia. (Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star)

“When [Crain] is healthy, he's as good as it gets out of the bullpen. This definitely shores up one of our big weaknesses of the team last year, which was the bullpen. I like our young guys, but I feel adding experienced relievers will help with their development and help them mature and help us win some games.”
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, on recently signed reliever Jesse Crain. (Brian McTaggart,

—Those six games that Marlins second baseman Nick Green played for the Mariners in 2007 just weren’t enough to keep the organization from handing No. 22 out to Robinson Cano.


“Can I be a 30-100 guy? Yeah, I definitely think so. I believe in my ability. I hear what people say. It's cool. You guys are all entitled to your opinions. But let's say I come back and I do what I do. Then what? If I come back and put up numbers like '07, '08, '09, then what? Are we having these conversations? I've never been one to make excuses. I've always tried to get things done, but when you're hurt, at times you're a different player. For me, finally being able to be healthy and play … I was trying to compensate so I didn't feel pain, but still give whatever it is that I had. I'm just going to try to come out pain free and do damage.”
Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, on rebounding after a disappointing 2013 season. (Todd Zolecki,

“I had a good experience with the atmosphere, but the inconsistency of playing, even when healthy, was a challenge. I loved the city and the fans—they were awesome. I just wished I could have gotten in a groove and put up the numbers I know I am capable of.”
—Former Ray Luke Scott, on his decision to take his game to Japan. (Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times)

“People like to throw to him, and that typically comes with trust and success. He has a great feel. He's a guy that's good with reports and adjustments. He wants to do something early or come out of character, to make an adjustment, if he sees something. He's a very crafty guy. He's really good.”
—Rays pitcher David Price, on the benefits catcher Ryan Hanigan brings to the team. (Joe Smith, Tampa Bay Times)

“My job this past year was rehabbing and getting my arm better. But that was only part of it. I wasn’t going to sit there and mope and be, ‘Poor me.’ No one wants to hang out with you then anyway, right? That’s not being a good teammate.”
St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Jason Motte, on recovering from an injury in 2013. (Derrick Gould, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

“I never knew what it was like hitting with 400 at-bats [at one level] before because I never had 400 at-bats at any level. Now that I think of it, I think some of the pressure I put on myself in April and May to get my average to this and that, it doesn't really matter — because once you're in July and August, it will all equal out. That's pressure I didn't need to put on myself, personally.”
Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, on the pressure of playing a full season professionally. (Carrie Muskat,

“I want to be a doubles guy. I had some [pop]. I like hitting home runs—and [I'm] not going to be mad if I do—but I'm not the guy who will go up there and think [he] needs to hit 30 home runs. That's not me. I'll be happy with 30 doubles or something like that and maybe 10 or 12 home runs.”
Cincinnati Reds outfield prospect and 2013 first-round pick Phillip Ervin, on hitting for power. (Mark Sheldon,

“I can speak both [English and Spanish], and if I don't articulate an idea or concept the right way, it doesn't matter how many languages I speak.”
—Chicago Cubs manager Rick Renteria, on his ability to communicate with his players. (Carrie Muskat,

“Offensive efficiency has been talked about a million times, but it's true. [Hitting coach] Rick Schu is very in tune with that, and he's excited to get back to Spring Training. He had half a year with these guys, and they made great improvement. But he's excited about that prospect, and scoring some more runs.”
Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams, on his goals for improving his team in 2014. (Bill Ladson,

“We have spoken to Yasiel and made it clear that we, as an organization, are very disappointed in his recent behavior. This is a very serious issue to us and we will continue to educate him and strive to further develop his growth off the field and as a member of this community.”
Statement by the Dodgers after star player Yasiel Puig was caught driving at 110 mph on a 70 mph zone. (Dylan Hernandez, Los Angeles Times)

“If I did anything to offend anybody, I sincerely apologize. I don’t want that to be the lasting impression that I leave. I want the impression to be that I played hard and the team went a different direction and that’s the reason for it. I don’t like that that has been spread. I want to try and squash that. I don’t like that idea of me out there.”
Adam Eaton, responding to an anonymous Diamondback player claiming that he was a bad apple in the clubhouse. (Zach Buchanan, The Arizona Republic)

“Loading the car, trying to get in the car and all of a sudden I was looking at my phone. I had a couple missed calls, a couple text messages. So I call one of the front office staff from the Tigers, he says, ‘Oh, you’ve just been claimed by the Astros.’ I’m like, ‘All right, cool. I’m going to the hospital.’ ”
Lefty reliever Darin Downs, who was claimed by the Astros the same day as his second child was born (Kirkland Crawford, Detroit Free Press)

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