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1/3/2011: Hisanori Takahashi, Hideki Okajima, Daisuke Matsuzaka

by on Jan.03, 2011 @ 2:11 pm, under MLB

Hisanori Takahashi took off for Hawaii from Narita airport on Sunday.  He'll be spending the next three weeks or so overseas for his training.

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Hideki Okajima still needs to pass a physical before his contract with the Red Sox can be finalized.

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About 500 people visited the Hideki Matsui Baseball Museum today, the first day of operation in 2011.  The Angels' uniform Matsui wore last season was recently added and Oakland A's related memorabilia will likely be added sometime during Golden Week.

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Sponichi has posted an interview with Daisuke Matsuzaka (part 2 of the interview is here).  Below is my translation:

You won 9 games last year.  Your thoughts on the season?

I went into the 2010 season with the hopes of building up a body that could withstand injuries over the course of a full season, but then right from the start, I couldn't practice because of the pain (neck and back).  But I don't think the training I did during the off-season was bad, and once I got back, I felt as strong as I've ever felt during my 4 years [in the Majors].

Do you think your late start last spring had any effect?

The other pitchers were doing their job and even though there really wasn't a starting spot for me, I did want to return as quickly as possible.  I didn't really have a lot of time to try things out.  The fact that I couldn't properly throw in February and March really hurt me.  But that's really my fault.

You weren't able to get your delivery down?

I didn't fell quite right in the beginning.  I felt my upper and lower body weren't in sync, I couldn't feel a smooth transition.  But I felt I'd be alright pitching in games.  It took a while.  And that's because I couldn't do things to address my needs, since it was more about doing whatever it took to win.  So that wasn't what I wanted.  I really wanted to get back to my usual self as soon as possible.  But it took a while.  That's the Majors.

So it took you a while to make adjustments?

In Japan, I was able to get through [times like last season] by pushing through.  But when you're facing an especially strong team, that's not always possible.  The season ended up ending with my thinking that I needed a little more time, that I rushed things a bit.

You felt you had better stuff, what are your thoughts moving forward?

I felt stronger, but not over the course of a full season.  I just felt it more often, not all the time.  And the team expects stability from their starters.  So what I'd like to do is think about what it takes to be able to keep it flowing all the time.

Have you made any adjustments to your training based on what you've learned [so far]?

First, it's all about starting early.  I feel it's about building up a solid foundation by strengthening the lower body.  Over the last few years, I felt fatigue in my lower body during the season.  I'm 30 now, so things will change with my body, I expect things to change with my body.  So I need to start working on my lower body earlier on.  So in that sense, I think I'm still trying new things out.

What would the break down be?

Maybe 70% lower body, 20% upper body, and 10% shoulder.  Up until now, it was 50/50.  The last couple of seasons I felt that my upper body was getting ahead of my lower body, so right now it's about making the adjustment and focusing more on my lower body.

So you're working on a delivery that isn't dependent on the upper body?

I think that's what I was like originally.  I built up power using my lower body to help complement my upper body strength.  But right now, my upper body power is beating out my lower body.  And I was feeling a little out of sorts in that area.  So I want to address that first.

Do you already have an image of how you want to approach the start of the season?

My problem last year was pushing myself too hard.  I wasn't thinking enough about taking time off to rest.  For me, it was always about how hard I could push myself during the months of January and February.  But in getting older, I think I need to start thinking about other things as well.  I need to be a little more in tune with my body.  If I can pick up on the small differences / changes, then I should be able to avoid major injuries, and that in turn will allow me to train properly.

What are your thoughts on the pitching coach changing from John Farrell to Curt Young?

There won't be any significant differences in expectations.  I need to be open from the start and work on getting on the same page.  I don't think it'll take me as long as it did during my first year.  The club knows what I've done over the last 4 years so that should help.

What about Victor Martinez leaving?

I'm glad [Jason Varitek] decided to stay.  I also pitched to [Jarrod] Saltalamacchia last year.  I don't think it'll be too hard to get things going during spring training.