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WBC: Matsuzaka quotes; Darvish to start against Korea?; and more…

by on Mar.16, 2009 @ 4:54 am, under WBC

...Samurai Japan was in attendance for the Korea / Mexico game. With Korea's 8-2 victory over Mexico, the two teams will go at it once again on Tuesday, 11PM EST (thankfully, the game will be on in Japan at a more reasonable time ). I think this is going to be another great game.

...People who are itching to see Yu Darvish pitch should get their chance on Tuesday when he gets the start against Korea.

Said Darvish, "I'm getting a pretty good feel for the WBC ball. My slider is also working, I'm feeling pretty good right now."

...Hiroyuki Nakajima should be fine for Tuesday's game against Korea -- he actually took some batting and fielding practice prior to the game against Cuba.

...Daisuke Matsuzaka's comments after the game (there's also video footage, but it's all in Japanese):

Your thoughts about the game.
I've been hearing things about how I match-up well with Cuba prior to the game, but I wasn't really thinking about that. I was focused more on having a better outing that my last one during the first round.

Is there a difference between US players and Japanese players regarding their desire to partake in the WBC?
I always want to be the kind of player that gets selected to represent Japan in tournaments like this. And if I'm invited, I'll always be more than happy to play. That's all it is for me.

Why do you think US pitchers don't want to participate?
Hmm... In a coutry that prides itself in patriotism... But I don't really understand it.

Why are you so tough against Cuba?
My opponent was Cuba so I went into the game with the same kind of feeling I had when I pitched against them last time during the finals. But more than that, I just really wanted to do better than I did in the first round. I had my good fastball today and I think that really worked out well against Cuba.

...Ichiro Suzuki's advice to Atsunori Inaba prior to the game against Cuba:

"There's an ocean winds that sweeps in from right, making it difficult to hit homers in that direction."

In other words, Ichiro's advice to Inaba was that lefties shouldn't try to jack the ball at Petco Park.

...Ichiro, on his mishandling of a foul fly in the third:

"The sun isn't in that location during the summer. I really did my best to catch the ball. I really wanted to make that play since the ball did hit my glove."

...Shuichi Murata was down that he couldn't come through when Japan was beaten by Korea, 1-0. And so he worked on hitting fly balls during batting practice (a note mentioned during the TV broadcast). It seems like that work paid off against Cuba as he hit a sac fly in the third to give Japan its third run of the game.

Said Murata, "There was a situation [against Korea] where a sac fly could have kept us from losing. I'm glad I was able to get the job done today."

...20,179 fans were in attendance for the Japan / Cuba game. And despite the game being in the US, the cheering Japanese fans could still be heard.

...Samurai Japan played music from artists like Hikaru Utada, BoA, and Bump of Chicken during their practice session at Petco Park. They were the last of four teams to practice (Mexico, Korea, Cuba, then Japan).