Hideki Matsui has been working out with Yuichi Kohatsu this off-season. Kohatsu is a trainer that Matsui met back in July 2008 and started consulting on an exclusive basis since August 2008. According to Kohatsu, Matsui appears to be in great shape (best over the last few years) and in much further along in his workouts compared to last year.
Matsui also told reporters yesterday that he'll probably head back to New York sometime in early February.
Matsui is 7 homers away from 500 (NPB + MLB) and just 1 hit away from 2,500 (NPB+MLB).
Tsuyoshi Nishioka started working out at a field in Osaka today. Nishioka plans on using the same field for training through to the 20th. Players like Sho Nakata will also be working out with him.
Junichi Tazawa took off for the US today -- from Narita, to Chicago, and finally to Fort Myers. Tazawa told reporters before leaving that his rehab was coming along and that he was hoping to starting throwing again in March (11-month mark since surgery).
After two unsatisfactory season you'll now be entering the 5th year of a 6 year deal. In some ways, this year would be something of a crossroads.
I couldn't prepare properly in 2009 and that responsibility weighed heavily on me. Last season, I was able to throw the ball well, but that didn't always translate into good results. It was a year that made me remember just how difficult baseball can be. And it made me think about what's necessary in order to succeed. Now I need to avoid injury and focus on my training and prove to myself that the answer I came up with was right.
And what " is necessary" in order to succeed?
This isn't about me, it's about thinking about what the team needs. I need to consider what I'm thinking during games, I need to understand the flow of the games, and I need to realize the condition of the team. I think maybe last year, I couldn't see what was going on around me very well. After all the thinking I've done this off-season, I've come to the conclusion that I need to unite with the team, that we need to become one.
In order to get the fans on your side, you need to put up results. Do you have any goals yourself?
I want to throw more than last year. So more than throwing 200 [innings], I just want to throw more than last year. I need to do that first. In my mind, nothing is set in stone. I need to secure a spot in the starting rotation. That's where it begins. Nothing has changed since last year.
This is with regards to your career as a baseball player: what are your thoughts on entering your peak years?
Right now, the thing I'm thinking about during my workouts is how to delay that peak. I don't think I'll hit that peak right away, and I'd like to try and delay it. That means I need to think that peaks don't exist. I think that's probably what Ichiro is thinking. I want to try and keep myself at a high level at all times. And so I need to work on building a strong foundation for that. It's tough to do, but I need to keep pushing myself.
You added another pitch to your arsenal. You threw a change-up that was similar in grip to a split change.
After going to the US, I saw that there were a number of different kinds of sliders and change-ups. I found that very interesting and wanted to try it out myself. It was hard for me to tell the difference in off-speed pitches, but the bullpen catcher told me it was a good pitch. I then decided to give it a whirl during a game and found it to be more effective than I thought it would be. When I first threw it during a game against the Yankees, it made me feel that it was good enough to work against them.
Having an open mind in learning new pitches might be important for the development of a pitcher's career.
Every pitcher throws the same pitch differently. There are many times where I'll watch someone throw a pitch and wonder exactly how they managed to do it. MLB player's hands are much bigger than mine, so even if I throw the ball exactly like them, I don't get the same kind of effect. So if I make a few tweaks, I feel I can make a new type of pitch. After that, it's about working on it so that it becomes usable.
Your turned 30. Do you have a goal for baseball in your 30s?
When I think back to my 20s, there was never a year in which there was nothing. Each year provided a connection to the next. Things I experienced one year, ended up helping me 2-3 years later. I'd like to make sure that the 10 years leading up to 40 are similar. And again the same from 40 to 50. Things might be a little abstract right now, but I think things will make more sense as time goes by time.
Your thoughts on Tsuyoshi Nishioka joining the Twins?
One more Japanese player for the American League. It makes me happy to think that we'll be able to play on the same field. I'm looking forward to facing Tsuyoshi. I also hope that we can make the match-up interesting for fan as well.
You started doing more for charity last year. Any changes?
I got a lot of thank you's in the US during the off-season. It made me remember that a lot of people new what I was doing. But this is just the start. I think I can do more and I'd like to spread the word more.
It would be nice to see the younger players keep that going.
Baseball isn't only supported by the fans that love the game. It's much more than that. I think about it all the time as I play. I'd like the younger players to do the same as well.