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2/23/2012: Hideki Matsui, Junichi Tazawa, Daisuke Matsuzaka

by on Feb.23, 2012 @ 3:01 am, under MLB

Hideki Matsui left for the US out of Narita Airport today.  Matsui plans to continue his training in the US as he waits for an offer.

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Nikkan Sports has posted an interview with Junichi Tazawa.  Some of the more interesting sections:

You threw fifty-two pitches in the bullpen.  Was there a set limit?

When I asked how many pitches I could throw, they said there really was no limit.  And I wanted to throw a little more than I usually do, so I went with fifty-two.

How did you feel during the session?

I felt I was all over the place at first, but I think things started improving once I started throwing off-speed pitches.

Was today the first time you did not have to worry about a pitch limit?

I was throwing around forty pitches each session.  When camp started I asked how many I could throw and they said there was no set limit.  I usually throw around forty during camp and I wanted to throw more than that [today].  And just when I got to about ten more pitches, they asked me to pitch against two imaginary batters, so it ended just right.

There were pretty tight limits up until now, but today you were able to throw more and you started feeling better. Did that make you feel differently about things?

No, not really.  It was not like I wanted to throw, it just so happened I threw a little more.  And now I have to think about my next session on one day of rest and make sure I am fully prepared for that.

You mentioned want to release the ball a little closer to home plate.  How many were you able to do that today?

There are times when my pitches sail up and then they start lower in the zone.  When that happens, my fingers come off the pitch in a way that makes me think the pitch I just threw will be in the dirt, but lately those pitches are going where I want them to go.  If I can just get that feel back.  I think the only way to get my body to remember that feel is repetition.

In terms of your feel for things, are you trying to get yourself back to how you were before you got injured, or is this something new altogether?

I was feeling tightness in my elbow since my Industrial League days and now I do not have that problem so honestly, I think this is kind of new for me.

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Nikkan Sports is also carrying an interview with Daisuke Matsuzaka.  Once again, some of the interesting sections:

Your thoughts on going through the same kind of exercises your teammates are doing.

Well, I do have a limit on the number of pitches I can throw, so when I look around and see other practicing, it makes me feel a little like I am missing out on something.

The manager said you were not going to pitch in any exhibition games.  Did you hear about that?

No, I have not really heard anything about that.  But then I was not even considering that.

What do you mean by that?

Just that I did not think it would be possible.  If I think about the current pace.

How did it feel to play catch with [Bobby] Valentine?

Like I could not move too far away from him (laughter).  And yet it was still at that distance.  I have not really had very many experiences of playing catch with the manager after turning pro.

Has anything changed now that there is a new manager and pitching coach?

Hmm...  Yes, things have changed.  I do not know what the other American players think though.  I wonder what it was like for the Mets.  I think people that know what things were like with the Mets, they might be able to tell the difference.  I have no idea what things were like for the Mets.  But it does seem like the amount of fundamental practices has increased, maybe like the Japanese way.  At least that is kind of what it feels like.  It seems like instructions are a lot more detailed than last year.  The coaches have been giving out the assignments, and I have been doing them while thinking that maybe Bobby was behind them.

Pitchers never practiced slash bunts last year...

I started swinging a bat before even asking the trainer (laughter).  Up until last year they would have stopped me.  While I swinging the bat I was thinking if this was really ok.  But it did not seem to be a problem.

You have always liked to hit.  But is it also good for a change of pace?

Yeah.  I enjoy it.  That is, not only do I get to bunt, but now I can work on slash bunts.  Yes.  If practices ended with just bunts, it would not be much fun.  Slash bunts.  It seems like each practice has something new attached to it.

Are you getting a good feel for what the manager is trying to accomplish with these changes?

Yes.  During the first meeting, he got all the players together and talked about doing the little things.  At this level, some players begin to lose sight of those things.  But when you lose, some times it is the little things that do it.  And I have seen that with my own eyes many times, so I think this is something the team needs.  Other than that, it is about the players and what they are prepared to do.