Apart from the running, it was a promising beginning for the new gem of the Yankees' rotation, Masahiro Tanaka.

Saturday, on the first day of workouts for Yankees' pitchers and catchers, Tanaka threw 32 pitches to catcher Francisco Cervelli in a bullpen session and participated in variety of typical Spring Training pitching activities.

The work was ordinary for Spring Training, but extraordinary for the amount of attention paid to one player. About 150 media members were on hand for Tanaka's inaugural workout, the majority of them Japanese.

But what left an impression on Tanaka was the conditioning run that finished practice for the pitchers. Four laps around a practice field, roughly a mile, and at the end of it Tanaka's face was contorted into a painful grimace. When he was asked later what one thing he would most remember from his first workout with the Yankees, he smiled and said through an interpreter:

"Probably what I'll remember was the four laps that we did at the end. That was pretty hard."

Tanaka played long toss with Hiroki Kuroda, threw his bullpen session, participated in pitchers' fielding practice, and then did the conditioning run. But that last activity seemed to stay with him.

"Just the running part, that was really hard for me today," Tanaka said. "I actually didn't know that I was going to run this much. And I'm a little bit of a slow runner, so that part I really can't help."

The first workout of Spring Training is usually a routine exercise. But at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Saturday, it was also an international event.

The activity was the normal, common, everyday stuff of early Spring Training. But with Tanaka on the mound, it became the biggest baseball thing in town. Or in the state. Or in North America. Or anywhere on the planet, for that matter.

Scores of media personnel were on hand to chronicle Tanaka's every move, from his emergence onto a practice field in the morning to his every word during a post-practice press conference in the afternoon. A large contingent of fans ringed the fences to observe Tanaka's work.