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Sponichi interviews Tsuyoshi Wada

by on Jan.02, 2012 @ 1:01 pm, under MLB

Sponichi has posted the following interview with Tsuyoshi Wada:

You found out where you were going to play in mid-December...

I did not think it would happen so soon.  My agent also told me that the market was moving a little slow this year, so I thought I might not know until January.  Finding out early means I can spend more time preparing.  This this was good for me.

Why did you pick the Orioles?

They were the first to address all my concerns.  I did talk things over with my agent, but I kind of liked them from the start.

What were some of your concerns?

Starting for one.  I also wanted to bring my personal trainer along (土橋恵秀).  I was worried about my family as well, but for me to succeed, I felt it important to try and recreate a similar type of pitching environment.

What were your thoughts of the stadium in Baltimore?

The distance between the mound and home plate felt really close.  It is only 97 meters [to right] so the outfield is a little small.  [The stadium size] kind of reminded me of Tokyo Dome.

What kinds of things are you doing to prepare for the Majors?

I was able to adjust to the new baseball last season, so I am not too worried about the size of the baseball.  I guess my concerns lie in starting.  I will be going from pitching on six days of rest to four days of rest.  There [can be] time zone changes during road trips.  [Last season, instead of] taking the day off two days after my starts [as I used to], I trained non-stop.  I also tried adding workouts on days I pitched in the bullpen and even pretended to pitch on four days of rest.  But that was all in my imagination, so I will not know until I actually experience it.

You decided to wear the number 18, the same number when you pitched at Waseda.

I really wanted the number 21, but that was not one of the options.  My agent gave me a list of numbers and 18 was the first one that popped out.  It is the number I was wearing during college when I dreamed of pitching in the Majors.  I selected it because this is like returning to my roots when I first started pitching.

You will be pitching in the same division as [Daisuke] Matsuzaka.

Matsuzaka had more wins against me in Japan (4-2 Matsuzaka).  When Daisuke left for the Majors, I thought we would face each other again [some day].  When I was in high school, I thought he was above me.  When Daisuke made it to the Majors, I dreamed of how nice it would be if I could do the same.  I look forward to the possibility of pitching against him on this new stage (the Majors).  If Daisuke's rehab goes will, then he will be back as a start, which means I need to make it through as a starter as well.

The AL East is a tough division with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.  Which batter do you look forward to facing?

Every one of them.  It is a world I can not imagine [right now].  They can easily hit 160km/h pitches.  I could not believe that Daisuke got hurt.  That he competed in the midst of all that.  Made me think how amazing he is.

You will be facing a lot more batters.

I have already asked for data on the AL East teams.  When I told the GM how I like to prepare, he told me he would immediately get a DVD together.  It should be arriving some time early this month.  I will buy an iPad and carry [the data] around with me.

You get a fresh start at a fresh location.  Do you feel the same way you did the first year you turned pro?

The team is different.  The league is different.  And the country is different.  The environment is, of course, also different.  I will approach things as a first year player.  I will follow things like the clubhouse rules and dress code.  But in terms of pitching, I will go with what I have in my tenth year.  I will not pitch like I did when I was rookie.  The nine years I pitched for the Hawks meana something and I will not forget the pride I have in what I have accomplished up until now.  I will not bend in that area.

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