FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Kenta Maeda has never set foot in Minnesota, but he sounds eager to get there.
It's "something to discover and go out and (have an) adventure," Maeda said through interpreter Daichi Sekizaki of his new baseball home.
The adventure began Thursday, albeit it 1,700 miles away. Maeda, finally acquired from the Dodgers in a trade that took a week to consummate, reported to the Twins' Florida spring training camp, went through a battery of physical tests, and met his new teammates. The 31-year-old native of Japan, under contract for the next four seasons, is projected to join the Twins' starting rotation after spending four seasons in Los Angeles.
Maeda held a pair of press conferences, too, including one for the dozen members of the Japanese media who gathered to cover his arrival. He said he already felt welcome with his new team, "and honored to be a part of the Twins' organization."
Even if it took awhile.
Though word leaked out on Feb. 4 that he was being traded to the Twins, the deal did not become official until Monday, the day before camp opened. His agents tried to keep him updated while the teams worked out the details, but "they said we're not actually 100% sure," Maeda said. So he remained in limbo for a week, working out near his home in Los Angeles and waiting for official word.
Now he's excited to pitch for a team that, he hopes, will give him the role he wants: Starting. Maeda made it known in Los Angeles that he was unhappy when the Dodgers moved him to the bullpen near the end of the past three seasons. He has received assurances from the Twins -- "Not necessarily guaranteed, but it's been discussed," he said -- that he will be in the rotation.
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