Tampa Bay Devil Rays third baseman Akinori Iwamura agreed to share his thoughts on his first season in the Major Leagues in a weekly story on devilrays.com, entitled Aki's Diary. Here's the second installment:
We were on the road for the week at Texas and Minnesota, and I enjoyed the experiences at both cities. In Texas, I especially enjoyed seeing Akinori Otsuka, a longtime friend and teammate on the World Baseball Classic team. Otsuka played with the Rangers last year and knew the city well enough to know where the best Japanese food could be found. He brought me and my interpreter, Masanobu (Masa) Koyanagi, Japanese food to the ballpark each day we were there, and one night he took us to dinner at a great Japanese restaurant in Dallas.
On our second day in Arlington, I went to where most of the guys go to buy western wear, a place called Cavenders. I bought a pair of boots for myself and one for my wife. One of the pairs of boots was alligator skin and the other was lizard skin.
Our next stop was Minnesota, and the minute we stepped off the plane, we were cold. The tarmac was icy, and a few of the guys slipped just walking from the plane to the bus. I found the Metrodome to be very similar to the Tokyo Dome. The ceiling was nearly the same, and I felt comfortable with my surroundings.
Masa and I had a very nice dinner in St. Paul on Saturday after the game with Josh Paul and Ty Wigginton. We talked about our hopes for the team and enjoyed the fine Japanese cuisine.
We won two of the four games with the Twins and beat two of their best pitchers -- Johan Santana and Joe Nathan. In Sunday's win over Nathan, I was fortunate to hit a breaking pitch for a double to lead off the ninth inning and come around to score the winning run on another double by Dioner Navarro. It made for a nice flight home.
Akinori Iwamura is a contributor to MLB.com. As told through interpreter Masanobu Koyanagi. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.