• Japanese professional baseball pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (R) of the Rakuten Eagles speaks before press (AAP)
Japanese baseball star Masahiro Tanaka, a $174m signing with the New York Yankees, has chartered his own 787 Dreamliner to fly to New York with his dog.
Source:
AAP
10 Feb 2014 - 4:55 PM  UPDATED 11 Feb 2014 - 2:57 PM

Japanese baseball sensation Masahiro Tanaka chartered his own Boeing 787 Dreamliner to fly him to New York, with the entire plane taken up by his five-strong party and his pet dog.

The ace pitcher, who has just signed a seven-year MLB deal worth $US155 million ($A173.6 million) with the New York Yankees, is believed to have splashed out $US195,000 ($A218,000) of his own money on the one-way flight.

"It's a (chartered) private jet. It's not something the Yankees have prepared," he told reporters at Narita Airport near Tokyo on Sunday.

Japan Airlines (JAL) confirmed he used one of its Boeing 787s but declined to disclose further details.

Jiji Press news agency said Tanaka booked out the whole plane - which usually has about 200 seats - for a group of five including his wife. His dog - a brown Toy Poodle - was also aboard, the Sports Nippon said.

JAL said the plane had been booked ahead of the heavy snow that hit Japan over the weekend, grounding all regular commercial flights to New York on Sunday and causing travel chaos around the Japanese capital.

Even with the luxury of his own airliner, Tanaka did not escape the weather-induced misery, with his journey from a Tokyo hotel to the airport by car taking eight-and-a-half hours.

Tanaka paid for the plane so he could take part in the team's camp "in the best of form", a Japanese baseball official who accompanied him reportedly said.

He is to hold a media conference at Yankees Stadium on Tuesday before going to Florida for a team training camp.

Tanaka, playing for the Sendai-based Rakuten Eagles, was unbeaten last season.

The right-hander went 24-0 with a 1.27 earned-run average and 183 strikeouts with only 32 walks in 212 innings for the Japan Series champion Eagles.