Lunch with Dice-K and Okaji

What a pleasant surprise. The two Japanese pitchers on the Red Sox — Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima — took all the Boston writers who are in Fort Myers out to lunch at a country club this afternoon.

Daisuke showed up in a V neck sweater and slacks while Okaji had on a collared, white shirt and shorts. They both seemed to enjoy their 90-minute session with the scribes, which was vastly helped by translators Masa Hoshino and Sachiyo Sekiguchi, both of whom are working full-time for the Red Sox this season.

The lineup included yours truly, Globe representatives Gordon Edes and Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Herald scribes Mike Silverman and Tony Mazz as well as Sean McAdam from the Providence Journal, Rob Bradford from the Lawrence Eagle-Tribute, Jeff Goldberg from the Hartford Courant and Glenn Miller of the Fort Myers News-Press. Add in the translators, the two pitchers and Red Sox crack PR guy John Blake, and we had a nifty table for 15.

I went for the coconut shrimp appetizer and chicken quesadillas. Daisuke liked the Chicken Wrap and coleslaw while Okajima went for a salad and a side of fruit.

It was interesting to see both pitchers ask the waitress very easily in English, "Iced Tea, please."

The whole lunch was very well orchestrated. It didn’t feel like a question and answer session even though it was one. It just felt like a bunch of guys getting together for lunch and talking about different stuff, albeit in different languages.

And Daisuke dropped an interesting nugget for those avid Sox fans who might see him in downtown restaurants this summer:

"The one thing that I
dislike is that if I’m in the middle of a meal, and people come up and ask for
a photo or an autograph, at that time I’m sort of forced to ask them to wait
until I’m done eating my meal. If they’re willing to wait, then after that, I’d
be more than happy to give them an autograph or take a picture."

Fair enough, right?

There were two highly comical moments from the lunch:

Daisuke imitating Pedro’s takedown of Don Zimmer from the ’03 playoffs and accidentally banging his pitching elbow on the table. Fortunately, he was not heard, though a few people looked semi-horrified at the moment of contact

The other funny moment was when Shaughnessy asked Matsuzaka to imitate the grip of the non-existent gyroball by using a dinner roll. Matsuzaka looked at the roll a couple of times, then said there was a grip, but he just couldn’t show it. Top secret stuff!

Daisuke is not sure yet what type of music he’ll come out to during his Fenway starts this season.

“I’m very torn. I’m debating whether to go with an
American artist or a Japanese artist.”

He seems to have a vast taste in music:

"I listen to rock, R&B, hip hop, a lot of different
kinds.”

Oh, and by the way, Matsuzaka is a very big Angelina Jolie fan.

"Obviously she’s very pretty but there’s an aura about
her. She also has a strength and poise that I find attractive.”

All in all, a great day. It was the first time the American media has really had a chance to get to know the pitchers in an informal setting. They both seem like really genuine, good guys. It was a lot of fun. To see much more of the questions and answers, check out the full story on redsox.com

The Mayor’s Cup is on the line tonight. Schilling vs. Santana. Schilling left with a 4-0 lead with two outs in the fifth and got a rousing ovation. This one counts. The winner drinks champagne. The loser fumes over not being able to hold that coveted trophy that Fort Myers residents will be talking about until next March.

More later,

Ian.

44 Comments

Yup. Sox vs Twins. Schilling vs Santana. If they both throw their A-team on the field, that’s the best non-regular-season baseball you could have. I wanna see Curt against the 1-2 punch of Mauer/Morneau. And then Manny/Papi facing Santana.

Sit down and enjoy. I know i will.

Wow!! Ian, I guess you were in the right place at the right time!! Good to hear they seem like down to earth guys!! I’m really looking forward to seeing what they bring to the Sox. I think that this season will be a whole lot more satisfying to players and the RedSox Nation fan base than last!
I’m waiting like everyone else until we hear that long yearned for phrase:

“PLAY BALL”…….. until then I’ll just count the days.

Forget the days Ellen, I am counting the hours! Currently 119… Should be a solid game tonight. I cannot think of a better exhibition game than this. Perfect way to end the spring and get into the 7 month baseball grind!

Ya know what *****?
The yankees, will mostl ikely win our division, but with 4 teams good enough to make it to the playoffs, we probably wont even get our wild card…

*4 teams in the AL central i meant

I can’t say the Yanks will most likely win the division. Honestly, it should a lot closer than last year and I’m gonna say it’s coming down to only a couple games making or breaking the AL East.

As for the pre-season predictions by diehard on the last blog post and Vince’s counter, I’m gonna have to agree more with Vince. Hey I love my Red Sox, but I can’t ever forget about the Yanks sitting right next to us. :)

As for the AL Central, it’s gonna be more of a dog-eat-dog division than the AL East it seems but I can’t discount an AL East team making the Wild Card because of that.

I can’t wait for opening day either!!! The only major problem I can see with the red sox is with the bullpen. I dont know how we’re gonna use a guy like Pinero, and, unfortunately, everyone but papelbon is not “super reliable”. What do you guys think of trading wily mo pena for Chad Cordero? The Nats want pena, and we can use cordero to set up for papelbon. Cordero is like in his 20s and he can big a large upgrade from timlin. Also, this gives us a chance to see Jacoby Ellsbury and see if he can handle major league pitching.

dj992, unfortunatly, i think it’s safe to say that if Jim Bowden gives us Chad Cordero for Wily Mo ( and Wily Mo only ), he’s fired before the sunset.

First pitch in 10 minutes.

In terms of the Pena-for-Cordero trade, I don’t think it makes any sense to give up a guy with as much potential as Wily Mo for a setup man, because that’s essentially what you’ll be getting with Cordero. Papelbon is one of the top closers in the game and only 26, so it’s not like Cordero will be “next in line” for a closer job which hopefully won’t be vacated for the next 8-10 years.

If Pena can get his 400 at-bats this year, I think we will see the emergence of one of the better power hitting outfield reserves in the league. Throw in the professionalism and versatility of Alex Cora, along with Mirabelli’s ability to tame the knuckleball and I’d say that’s a pretty good looking bench.

Is it me, or do all you guys and gals have way more posts during a night game in which the game is televised? Keep it flowing. I was getting paranoid that 38pitches.com was stealing some of my readership :)

Sox have scored 2 runs on 6 hits, thus far. They have runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out right now.

Schilling has been on his game so far today – only one ball really left the infield.

I STILL want to know whats with the Sox blind faith in Pedroia. I mean.. trusting a rookie with a starting job after only a small bit of big league experience.. and not very good experience at? Why not have made it a battle for the spot? Ian, can you help me understand?

Make that 4 runs for the Sox and runners on 2nd and first, one out.

Ian.. game aint televised for me :-) I don’t get NESN love. So I listen to Audio and type

Ian: No worries about Schill stealing your thunder. No way he’ll ever over take you as “The BLOG-MEISTER”!!! You’re our guy. Curt does write a decent blog, but, hey we still love you the BEST!!!!

Lugo, Youk and Manny are out of the game already. Perhaps as a reward for their good deeds?

The three have combined 5 for 9 and all 4 of the RBIs currently on the board.

Ian, I see from Cyn and her mom that Shaughnessy treats the Sox and the Nationers very badly in the press. I wonder how the players and the other media persons feel about this?? He really doesn’t seem to have much nice to say about any of us.
..and Curt the Hurt looks really on, I am ecstatic about that.

The guys are looking good tonight. Crisp looks like he’s getting his bat back in order and the “wheels” are back on as far as speed. I hope we see a lot more of this!!!

God, I hate limited pitch counts in Spring Training.

Schill was on FIRE and they just pulled him. He had aroudn 60 pitches, through 5 2/3. But… fire. 2 hits, no runs, no walks.

Here is Donnelly.

Ellen, while Im with you.. I’d love to here Ian or other “good guy” Boston writers talk about Shaughnessy – I HAVE to think many of them agree with the fans – I would imagine there is some sort of Writers Code that keeps them from critizing each other.

Yeah, you’re probably right. But I think they also prescribe to the “be careful who you burn on your way up” theory…

Is it the radar gun or none of the pitchers have their A-fastball tonight ?

Schill really did look good. Over 2/3 of his pitches were strikes.

I cant see the radar gun.. but Schill seemed on his A-game, regardless of whatever the fastball’s velocity was

Meanwhile, the Yankees (who are not sending out their A list pitchers – to be candid) are being butchered by the Astros to the tune of 10-1

guess Santana didn’t have his A-fastball, charged with 4 ER.

..and I have Santana as a Starter on my fantasy team!!!

Yes Schill was on his A-game.

That was just kind of weird to see a lot of 88-89 mph fastballs. And no, those weren’t changeups ! Although he threw many, and with good results.

I think he’s ready to be, again, the ace of a pretty good staff.

I have to say, I’ve known Dan Shaughnessy for a long time, dating back to when I was an intern at the Boston Globe. He always treated me very well and I still get along with him. Everyone has their own style of work so I’m not going to pile on there. But I respect that everyone has their own opinion on things.

sorry about alarming you Santanas earned runs ellen, all his other outings have been great though, but against the offense of the Sox, no pitcher shall win, (except they don’t look so high and mighty right now besides Youk).

On a different note, I’d like to hear your take, Ian et al, on whether first year Japanese players are, or are not, rookies. I was watching the broadcast of the Sox vs Reds game here in Japan and one of the announcers was adamant that Japanese players who had played pro ball here were NOT really rookies and they shouldn’t be considered in Rookie of the Year voting. I would like to know, then, what exactly makes a rookie a rookie. And would that way of thinking include all players who played pro in any other country? And would that also include players who spent five or six years in American ‘A’ ball?

I contend that the only way to make it fair is to consider ANY player who is in his first year in Major League Baseball be considered a rookie. Period. The idea of making distinctions between first year players based on where they played before when deciding the R.O.T.Y. is absurd. A rookie is a rookie.

Vermonter in Hiroshima

Mark

My first sentence in the last paragraph is rather poorly worded. Sorry. But I think you get the jist.

m

Buchholz is the starting pitcher tommorrow! If thats not exciting I don’t knwo what is.

I don’t expect him to dazzle, but it’ll be fun to get an idea what the excitement is about

I look forward to seeing Clay Buchholz pitch as well. It is nice to see a glimpse of the near future, since he could be part of the rotation as soon as 2008.

Jeff

Sox and Pinstripes

http://www.soxandpinstripes.com

Nice to see a Sox game in an actual MLB ballpark. 2 days away from the opener! Cant freakin wait. Manny looks to be back to his old self this last few games. The new gameday is up and running as well, I for one, like the changes.

Seems to me the Sox are putting it together nicely for the season. JT is doing well! Keep it up, dude! Hitting is coming along. I like it!!

Carl Pavano is starting opening day for the Yankees and Julian Tavarez looks like an ace in the No. 5 spot. Does anyone else find this amusing?

Jeff

http://www.soxandpinstripes.com

More than amusing, it’s downright satisfying ! I wouldn’t say he looked like an ace, though. I’d say solid.

But to have a 5th starter that looks better than the guy the Yanks will throw in for Opening Day … priceless !

Pavano as opening day starter is laughable. Almost as funny as Kevin Brown as their game 7 starter against us in the 04 playoffs.

Pavano…lol, wasnt mr. yankee saying andy is okay pitched a zillion innings over the past 2 years. Why arent they letting Pesky on the bench during the game, what ****, the dude’s an 88 yr old sox legend and he’s being dissed by the toooo tight shirts at mlb. He’s been with the team forever, let him have his freakin bench! what a joke!

No problemo Vince. Like most of the Yankee fans I have at least spoken with, you fall on the side of common sense and just an overall nice guy. =)

Now if Tavarez can keep that consistency he had, I’ve got no complaints. Honestly, if he had the same record as Beckett did last season, that would be just fine for me. With his start, it felt as if he carried over from last season and that’s always a good thing.

As for Pesky not being allowed on the bench, I get the rule, but there should be some leeway with it. I mean seriously, you think if the benches clear that good ol’ Pesky’s gonna come out and get in a ruckus? I doubt it. Let him be MLB. Why not concentrate on getting your Extra Innings Package to more people you greedy jerks.

(Oh and to my fellow Sox and Pinstripes peeps here, would you mind sending me the email you guys sent a while back. I accidentally deleted that in an email inbox cleaning that I needed to do recently =D . Thanks in advance and sorry to clutter your board Ian!).

Okay Nationers!!! time to start the real countdown. I’ve got it as 1687 minutes!!!

O.K. 25 hours before first pitch.

I wanna wish you, RSN, a great and exciting season. Good pitching, good hitting, no key injury, no big slump.

With, of course, a happy ending. An AL EAST title.

GO SOX !!

Yes, I did say that, lucky for you back spasms have nothing to do with the arm problems he had two years ago that Red Sox fans have enjoyed harping about.

Also lucky for you, the only reason he is not pitching opening day is because it would be on three day’s rest and that makes no sense when he will be pitching the next game anyway.

Opening day starters, at least in the Yankees sense, has no overall bearing on the Yankees team. Wang will miss three or four starts in April, Mussina and Pettitte both could have pitched opening day but it doesn’t make sense to rush them just because its opening day and then you have Igawa, who would be no more logical to pitch opening day than Pavano. This whole delusion that Pavano pitching opening day is a reflection of the Yankees pitching staff is the only thing laughable in the situation. It is a pure fluke. Had they not been cautious with Wang and had Wang not hurt himself in a non serious way, we would be throwing a 19 game winner, or three more wins than the leader on the Sox last year, instead.

btw D Rein, “mr yankee”, I like it.

Hey, Red Sox Nation! Greetings from Hiroshima, Japan! I’d like to hear what people think about Japanese players who have played pro in Japan being considered rookies and/or being considered for Rookie of the Year. In my opinion, a rookie is a rookie. If you deny Japanese players, where does it stop? Players from other pro leagues in other countries would have to be denied as well. And then what about ‘A’ ball players who spend 9 years with farm teams before making the bigs?

Does anyone seriously think that a rookie is not a rookie only when he is Japanese? This is definitely going to be be an issue this year with so many Japanese players as rookies. This is a borderline discrimination issue, in my opinion.

Anyway, ‘o7 looks promising. Can’t wait!

GO SOX!

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