Sponichi is carrying a number of Yusei Kikuchi articles. Here they are:
What are some of your memories of the Koshien?
I haven't watched any video of the summer. Part of me doesn't really want to watch. I feel like I need to keep moving forward so there's no need to.
Have you watched any pro-yakyu on TV?
I'm watching more than I used. I watching with the idea that I might have to face some of these guys.
Has Coach Sasaki said anything to you?
I'll be one of the first players under the coach to move on to the Majors so he said that he'd like to study up on things with me.
What would you like to see happen if you stay in Japan?
If possible, I'd like to get my feet wet in the starting rotation in my first year. Get a few starts under my belt. And that's why the 3-months leading to joining a club will be really important. I need to work on re-building my body.
What about what others are saying?
I'm not going to worry about what others are saying. In the end, it's my choice to make. I was told to get out of the prefecture for high school, but I thought, just wait and see what happens after three years. Now, I get people telling me they were glad I came to Hanamaki.
If Kikuchi wants to go to the States, he has his work cut out for him. There are 11 teams in the NPB that are interested in his services. For him to make a seamless transition to the Majors, he'll need to convince all those clubs NOT to draft him during the upcoming Amateur Draft. Otherwise he won't be able to negotiate with any MLB teams until March 31, 2010.
And even if Kikuchi does get all 11 clubs to cooperate with him, there's still the matter of what happens if/when Kikuchi decides he wants to return to Japan. Since he'll be heading off to the Majors out of high school, according to the current rules, he won't be able to return to the NPB for at least 3 years.
Kikuchi's current training schedule involves a lot of running.
When asked about his lower back, Kikuchi said "It still hurts to throw so when I practice pitching, I try not to throw with too much strength."
When asked about what he'd like to do with his remaining time in high school, he said, "If I have time, I'd like to go out bowling with my friends, but then I have to think about what others will say."
Kikuchi has plans to visit the US some time between the end of September and early October.
"I plan to tell my coach before I submit my letter of intent that I want to see at least 1 MLB game," said Kikuchi. "Not just to learn up on the the MLB, but to also see what it's like with my own eyes."
Kikuchi continues, "I love doing things that people tell me are impossible to do. These negative critiques makes doing things worthwhile. I have no concerns / worries about living in the US. I want to speak English and I know that some of the training is more advanced than Japan. It really excites."
And according to this last Sponichi article, Kikuchi still very much wants to go to the Majors.
"If I had a choice between the NPB and the Majors, I'd go to the Majors," said Kikuchi
"Where I want to go is the Majors. Most definitely. I don't want to live a life that's already laid out for me. I want to do something that's different and interesting. It's my life and I don't want to live with any regrets. I want to show the US scouts that came out to see me that I was worth their trip to Japan."
This is a far departure from what Kikuchi said a little while back about feeling as if there was something he needed to accomplish in Japan. (Incidentally, his parents agreed with him on this.)
But that apparently wasn't him speaking the truth.
"I don't know when I might get injured so I think now is when I have to make my move. All I know is that when I try my hand at the Majors, I want to be at the top of my game."
Kikuchi added, "When I see what people like Ryo [Ishikawa, the golfer,] are doing right now with their careers... I don't want to be beat by them..."