Category Archives: Commentary

Bringing the right shoes to the dance

Remember. When beginning a career in Japan, bring your running shoes.

New Yomiuri Giants first baseman Garret Jones talked on Sunday at Tokyo Dome about the many adjustments he’s had to make since arriving in Japan at the end of January —  many of them learning an approach to a different kind of spring training.

“Just getting used to the daily routine here, getting a flow with everybody, knowing what I have to do, how I should pace myself, what things I need to work on. When to ask for extra work, when to say, ‘I’m good,'” he said.

Jones, 34, got lots of helpful advice from veteran teammates Scott Mathieson and Luis Cruz and from Giants scouts Josh Fields and Adrian Gonzalez.

“Very valuable, those guys helped a lot, just giving tips, and pointers, things to do, what not to do, just prepare more than anything for spring training, mentally more than anything. ‘Hey this is what we’re going to do and don’t be shocked when we do a lot of extra work.’ They prepared me just by letting me know what to expect more than anything.”

“I talked to Josh Fields and Edgar (Gonzalez). They definitely said, ‘Be prepared and bring your running shoes. You’re going to be running a lot.’ It’s good. I don’t mind the work and the running because I know it benefits me in the long run.”

So remember new guys. Bring the running shoes.

On Sunday, the SoftBank Hawks got some good news. Yuki Yanagita, who won last year’s Pacific League MVP and should have won in 2014 as well, was in the lineup for the first time this season following elbow surgery last autumn and tripled.

The Hawks also got three crisp innings out of 25 pitches from former ace Tsuyoshi Wada.

The old boys of spring

Hurt pride requires extra ice

On Saturday, Hiroki Kuroda and Takahiro Arai resumed their preseason, simulated-game, WWF-style rivalry. A year to the day after he vowed to break teammate Arai’s bat in a simulated game — only to be taken deep the next day, Kuroda gave up a liner back through the box off Arai’s bat. The right-hander spoke the media with an outrageous amount of ice on his glove hand.

“It’s being iced for now, but we’ll just have to wait and see,” Kuroda said with a straight face.

“I was worried there,” Arai said. “If it was my ball that hit him and he got hurt, people would all be blaming me.”

Kuroda, who turned 41-years-old this month, showed amazing reflexes to spear the ball with his glove and explained that he was trying to cut the 39-year-old Arai some slack

“It’s not good to hit guys with pitches, so I threw something fat down the middle. Who’d have thought his bat control was that good?” Kuroda said.

A year earlier, when Arai homered off him on Feb. 28, Kuroda feigned disdain for his teammate’s antics.

“He held his fist pump too long. Do that in the majors and the next pitch you see will come at you.”

A day after saying that Daisuke Matsuzaka will not be in their season-opening five-man rotation, the SoftBank Hawks have revealed that Tadashi Settsu will start on Opening Day for the fifth straight time.

Speaking of starters, Scott Mathieson, who hasn’t started a regular season game since he starting 12 in 2011 for the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, is being stretched out to start this season and gave the Yomiuri Giants five innings in their preseason home debut against the Swallows.