Dodgers' Saito will avoid Dice-K crowd

Dodgers' Saito will avoid Dice-K crowd

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Daisuke Matsuzaka is scheduled to pitch for the Boston Red Sox Friday at Dodgertown, where Japanese countryman Takashi Saito is expected to avoid the crush of Asian media that follows Matsuzaka by pitching in a Minor League game on a back field.

"That day it might be better for me to pitch in the Minor League game," said Saito, who will probably be extended to two innings for the first time this spring.

Saito, 37, is a four-time All-Star in Japan, yet after his impressive rookie season in the Major Leagues last year, he re-signed with the Dodgers for $1 million. The 26-year-old Matsuzaka, who hasn't thrown a regular-season pitch in the Major Leagues, signed a six-year contract for $52 million after his club posted a $51 million transfer fee.

Is the 37-year-old Saito slighted with the apparent financial inequity?

"It's not unfair at all," he said. "He's a very accomplished pitcher. He will bring a lot to the Boston Red Sox, and they must feel he has that value."

Saito straddled the fence on whether the excitement over Matsuzaka's arrival in the Major Leagues will be good for Japanese baseball.

"It's difficult to say if it's good or bad for Japanese baseball," he said. "I don't follow Japanese baseball the way I used to."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.