A'special dude,' Yankees manager calls Yoshinobu Yamamoto

New York -- Many Japanese pitchers treasure No. 18, which Yoshinobu Yamamoto had with the Yankees.

"I handed him that jersey. "He can keep it," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Thursday.Because the 1960s Central League Tokyo Yomiuri Giants' ace wore No. 18, some Japanese pitchers want it. 

After Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hiroki Kuroda was the Yankees' last pitcher with the number from 2012 to 2014. 

Kenta Maeda's Los Angeles Dodgers contract contained the number, while Yomiuri Giants eight-time All-Star Tomoyuki Sugano wears it.

Yamamoto, 25, a right-hander sought by major MLB teams, has until Jan. 4 to sign with a team based on when the Orix Buffaloes posted him. 

 Boone and Yankees officials met with Yamamoto in Los Angeles and Manhattan. The Mets, Dodgers, and Giants are also interested.

All teams are bargaining and putting their best foot forward. Over my pay grade. 

See where it lands "Boone said. Special guy. His presence was substantial. At ease in his flesh. 

He was confident but humble. I've enjoyed getting to know him."

“I think he wants to be great,” Boone added. "There's some similarities there between him and Gerrit [Cole] in how dedicated and disciplined and all-in they are on pitching and baseball and their body how to be successful."

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