This post will be updated with information as it becomes available so keep checking back if you have any interest in Yuki Saito.
===== 2/14 @ 8:32pm
Saito and four other rookies visited a child care facility in Nago, Okinawa today. They played ping-pong and volleyball with the kids and gave them autographed boards.
Aoki told reporters today that he looked forward to a possible AB against Saito and said that he wouldn't take it easy on him.
===== 2/14 @ 12:46pm
Both of Saito's parents were on hand to watch the game (they had seats behind home plate).
===== 2/14 @ 10:52am
Sanspo has comments taken from Saito yesterday:
Your first game is now over. Your thoughts?
I wanted to experience what it was like. I'm glad I was able to pitch a scoreless inning. My focus today was to see how far I could get by with just my fastball. No real surprises.
Did you notice any differences between amateur[ and pro levels]?
The biggest difference is knowing that there are pro yakyu players playing behind you. It made me happy knowing that there were pro yakyu infielders behind me. It also felt a little strange. The balls they hit also weren't exactly easy chances. If they were hit just 1 meter further to either side, they would have been hits. They made a solid effort to field the grounders. So this outing of my wasn't exactly satisfactory.
You topped out at 139km/m.
I wasn't even thinking about velocity. But I was thinking about movement and control.
What are your impressions of the Samsung batters?
I pitched against the middle of the order, so I did feel intimidated. They have big bodies with strong swings.
What do you plan on working on now?
I still can throw the ball where I want. We're near the mid-way point during spring camp and I'm beginning to feel a little fatigue, so I'd like to slow things down a little and then ramp things up again. I threw at about 70% today. I'd like to be able to throw pitches with good movement at around 80-90%. If I want to pitch a full season, I need to be able to do that.
Nikkan Sports is carrying the following comments from Saito:
What were you feeling when you stood on the mound?
I wanted to take in the atmosphere. I'm glad I was able to toss up a 0 in an actual game.
How about your control?
I wanted to keep my pitches down and they ended up balls, but I think that's fine for now. But I still can't throw my pitches were I want to. That's what I need to work on.
You had professional players helping you on defense.
I did feel secure in that. And today's grounders weren't easy chances. They made solid plays on them.
What do you have planned for spring camp moving forward?
We're at the mid-way point of spring camp and I'm beginning to feel a little fatigue. I want to slow things down once and then ramp things up again. I also want to toss BP when I can.
It was your first game where a pro uniform...
More than the uniform, I was happy in knowing there were pro yakyu players behind me. It felt a little strange. I'm finally starting to feel like I've turn pro.
How hard were you throwing today?
In preparation for the start of the regular season, will you be throwing at 100% in March?
More like 80-90%. I won't go at 100%. I think that's what I need to do in order to pitch a full season.
How do you grade your outing?
Today was a 60. [The missing 40] is control and movement, both of those.
When Saito asked if there was one pitch he was satisfied with, he said it was his third pitch to Ryan Garko -- a fastball down in the zone that Garko fouled off.
"The biggest thing was that the batters couldn't hit the ball with the meat of the bat. If I can throw that type of pitch with consistency, I think I might be able to pitch in the pros."
He also said:
"I [give the outing] a 60%. I couldn't throw most of my off-speed pitches, so that's still a question mark. The things I need to work on are control and movement on the fastball. I want to throw pitches that are hard to hit with the meat of the bat."
Nikkan Sports has the following short quote from Saito:
The good thing is that I was able to keep my pitches down and that I was able to keep the batters from making good contact. If I can throw those kinds of pitches with regularity, I think I might be able to make it in the pros. I feel a little relieved. This was a team that finished the year in second place last year. And I pitched my first game against them. I threw mostly fastballs and I decided to focus on the overall outing. Since yesterday, I said it wasn't the results, but rather whether or not I was able jam batters or make them foul pitches off and without much concern for swinging strikes. And there was one pitch I was able to throw that I was satisfied with.
Nikkan Sports has a short comment from Garko:
It's pretty impressive that he was able to focus on pitching so well despite it being his first game. I was impressed he was able to throw it where he did with a 3-2 count. I sure he'll continue to improve and find success.
When asked to compare Saito with Daisuke Matsuzaka (Garko has faced Matsuzaka before):
It's still early during spring camp so it's hard to say. ... But I think all the batters that faced him feel he's a good pitcher.
The umpire gave Saito some help on a 3-1 pitch to the first batter he faced. On replays, the pitch looked high, but was called a strike.
Of the 14 pitches he threw, only 3 were off-speed pitches: 1 curve and 2 two-seamers. And it seems Saito was also able to add some movement to his fastball as even Samsung batters told reporters that it didn't look like he was throwing mostly fastballs.
Said pitching coach Masato Yoshii, "Pitchers that let loose with their arms like Saito, tend to have velocity and movement on their pitches. They aren't really the same type, but [Yu] Darvish has really strong wrists and also has movement on his fastball. I bet batters don't like it."
The crew from TBS' program Mino Monta-no Asa-zuba! (みのもんたの朝ズバッ！) was given a stern warning yesterday after they tried to interview Saito in an area where reporters don't have clearance to provide coverage from.
The TBS crew, that included Monta Mino and announcer Yuriko Takahata, waited for Saito near the front entrance of the stadium (they were waiting for him to finish eating lunch), knowing he would pass that area in order to go to the secondary ground to begin his pre-game preparations.
Saito answered questions for about 3 minutes, while TBS' crew got in the way of other players and team personnel.
The TV crew did not receive permission from the Fighters to provide coverage. And while most TV stations have stuck to the no media rule in the main entrance area, TBS has managed to break the rules twice (this time, plus another time on the 11th).
Reporters told Junji Ogawa (YAK) that Saito's next outing could come when the Fighters take on the Yakult Swallows (2/20). Ogawa replied by saying, "Saito's going to be used as a reliever? Maybe I can put [Norichika] Aoki up against him." He then added, "I bet traffic is going to be crazy that day."