Koji Uehara makes his major league debut tonight. It's actually not going to be bad weather for a night game in April with temps in the low to mid 50s, but I'm guessing the crowd will be small and Yankee-centric. It's a shame for Koji to make his debut that way, especially after the packed house on Monday.
I am feeling unusually optimistic about Koji. I know he's no spring chicken and I know he was a reliever the past few years, but just something about him gives me a good feeling. Time will tell, I suppose, but in the meantime I'm excited to see him pitch.
Dan Connolly of the Sun wrote a good article about Koji and how he's fitting in around the clubhouse. It's your typical feel good piece, but I like it because I have thought about how isolated Koji must feel, only being able to speak Japanese to his translator. It must get lonely, although it doesn't appear so from the article. Here are some good bits:
Without throwing a regular-season pitch, though, he has made his mark. When he arrived in spring, he put a copy of the club's roster on his locker and made notations about his teammates so he would remember everyone's name.
He also began posting the "word of the day" on a clubhouse wall, translating simple words and phrases such as "hello" and "good job" into Japanese and English.
I love word of the day!
Smiling widely, Uehara acknowledges he's also rather versed in the international bawdy language of baseball, participating in locker-room talk with colorful terminology courtesy of American linguists Zaun and Walker.
ZAUN and Jamie Walker, boy are the ones teaching Koji phrases in English? I can't even describe how happy that makes me. I mean, my imagination just runs wild.
"I like hanging around him. I told him we'd drink some beers, sake, for sure. ... He's a good dude, a good teammate."
That quote is from Mr. Walker himself. I wonder if he's told Koji yet that if it fits in a skillet, he
eats kills it?