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Red Sox Town Hall abuzz with Tanaka signing

BOSTON -- The news that took the baseball world by storm Wednesday -- Masahiro Tanaka signing with the Yankees -- certainly was not lost on their rivals to the north.

Manager John Farrell, speaking at Northeastern University before a Red Sox Town Hall meeting, didn't stray from the company line, commending Tanaka and saying all indications are he is a very good pitcher. But Jonny Gomes took a moment to relish a bit more in the Red Sox standing on top of the baseball world.

"It's kind of flattering a little bit that the league rival does have to reload as much as they did," Gomes said. "People can go out and sign whoever they want right now. Boxing rules, we still have the belt."

Even after the Yanks spent nearly $500 million on free agents this winter, Gomes is taking more of a wait-and-see approach. Catcher Brian McCann, for example, has never played in the American League, and Tanaka has never pitched in the Majors.

"It's pretty interesting, $500 million -- and then still some questions," Gomes said. "It's about winning the summer, it's not about winning the winter. That's what we're going to try to do again."

As for Tanaka, Farrell hesitated to make the easy comparison with Daisuke Matsuzaka, who joined the Red Sox from Japan before the 2007 season. But the manager did note that much of the transition is similar -- pitching with a slightly different ball on a slightly different mound every five days as opposed to every seven.

Tanaka also will have to adjust to pitching across three time zones, as opposed to one in Japan.

"We'll see how quickly he transitions to the Major Leagues here," Farrell said. "By every account, he's a middle-of-the-rotation, top-of-the-rotation pitcher."

Tim Healey is a contributor to
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