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2/21/2012: Wei-Ying Chen, Tsuyoshi Wada, Kosuke Fukudome

by on Feb.21, 2012 @ 3:20 am, under MLB

Hiroki Kuroda reported to Spring Training on Monday.

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Kosuke Fukudome left for Los Angeles on Monday out of Narita Airport.  Fukudome will work out on his own for a few days before heading to Arizona some time around February 25.

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Nikkan Sports has posted the following interview with Wei-Ying Chen:

How was you first day of spring camp?

It felt a little easier (laughter).  Before, there were times when I felt Chunichi camp was too much -- I was exhausted after just a week.  But over here, the coaches tell us to take it easy and not to rush.  They want us to check on things by doing drills, but not to rush because that can lead to injury.  The coaches also said that there are a lot of things that need to be done and than we can take our time.  Practices today were easy.  In Japan, everyone is working out at a fairly quick pace so it forces you to do things quickly, but players over here are easy going.  I also spoke about that to other players.

How does the new uniform feel?

Feels a little heavy (laughter).  I think the Japanese uniforms are made out of lighter materials.  [Tsuyoshi] Wada thought the same thing (laughter).  They feel different from the uniforms in Japan.

Do you feel like you are a major league baseball player?

No, not yet.  There are still a lot of things that need to be done and I am doing my best to get them done one at a time.

Even though training camp starts later, you still need to be ready at about the same time as when you played for the Dragons.  What do you think about that?

Hmmm.  Training camp begin early in Japan.  Around now pitchers are throwing batting practice.  Over here, you get about a week to do things on your own and then you start throwing batting practice or pitching in games during your second week.  The tempo is quick, the tempo over here is pretty quick, so preparing, doing things on your own, if you do not get things done, you might end up getting a late start.  I will do my best to make sure that I am fully prepared to pitch in [practice] games and exhibition games.

Were you able to get much done before you arrived at camp?

Hmmm.  Before coming here, I tossed two to three bullpen sessions.  I seem to get a late start during training camp every year and I did not want that to happen this year because I want to be ready for the games.

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Nikkan Sports has also posted an interview with Tsuyoshi Wada.  It is quite a bit longer so I have taken the liberty to select some of the more interesting sections.

How was your first day of training camp?

I felt really happy about finally getting to wear the official uniform.

What is the biggest difference in camps between here and Japan?

First, it is warm.  So warmth and, well, practices are really short.  And you do not waste much time [moving around the facilities] so you can do things like pitch right away.

But moving across multiple field is a Major League thing.

I just think it is more efficient.  You can do so much in a short amount of time.  I think it is wonderful. It is still the first day and I will do my best to get used to things as quickly as possible.

Did you have an idea of how things were going to be?

I did get some information about it, like that practices were efficient.  And that they took place on four fields. I got to try it.  In that sense, it was new to me.

What are some of the other differences?

Well, everything is different.  The signs, the strategy, everything is new.  I need to memorize all of it.  And then there are the teammates that mess around with me and trying to blend in.  I just want to do well and ultimately make the MLB roster on opening day.

What kind of things are your teammates doing?

They asked me to reply to their question in Japanese and I am thinking there is no way they are going to understand (laughter).  The players, the coaches, everyone is just really very warm and they like to mess around.  I want to be able to live up to that/respond to it properly.

Did you have your mechanics analyzed by a computer before arriving the US?

I did not have enough time this time around, but I did have my motion analyzed last year and the year before that.

What are you thoughts on the infield drills?

They are not that different from what is done in Japan.  Except the approach to the bases are a little different in America.  They taught me to aim for the edges of the bases and that the game is not quite as easy/friendly as it is in Japan.  It made me feel like they were really worried about me getting injured so I want to make sure I get myself to the point where [I am following their advice] without thinking about it.

You mixed in some off-speed pitches when you threw off the mound today.  How far along are you?

I am still at about 60-70%.  But I have not thrown many pitches in that fashion with this ball and mound.  I also need to get used to things like the climate.  I think I will be ok if I can [throw off the mound] a number of times.  After that, I need to work on my off-speed pitches and my control.  And if I can perform the same kinds of things I did in Japan over here.

The wind was pretty strong and it was humid today.  How about those areas?

Japan has similar conditions so I did not really run into any special problems.  There are a lot of domes in Japan so I do not have much experience pitching when it suddenly starts to rain or when it gets cold.  I might not be able to experience that here, but I think it will be good to get used to weather like this too.

Did you talk to the pitching coach about expectations?

I will talk to the manager about that tomorrow.  We were supposed to talk today but things got delayed and he said we can talk tomorrow.  The pitching coach will probably be there as well and I think we will talk about a number of different things.

Where are you in terms of being prepared?  Is it similar to where you were in mid-February when you played for Softbank?

A little late, or rather, I have pushed some things back.  I thought if I pushed myself too hard, I might not last.  I am doing all the training work.  With the throwing, I want to slowly work myself into being able to last a whole season.

You did a lot of training during the off-season...

I take fundamental [exercises] very seriously.  Without that, I do not think I can last very long over here.  It is about how much extra I can do beforehand and then slowly getting the lower body and upper body, the entire body ready.  Ultimately, if I can throw my pitches well once opening day starts, I will be ok.  Of course, I also need to do well before that, otherwise I will not make the MLB roster (laughter).  I would like to think about those kinds of things as I get myself prepared.