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Okajima highlights baseball clinic

Okajima highlights baseball clinic

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TOKYO -- As the Red Sox went through Monday's off-day workout at Tokyo Dome, they had a most captive audience. About 120 Japanese youngsters were seated in the third-base dugout, paying close attention to how some of the best players in the world swing the bat.

Once the workout was complete, the youths -- many of whom were decked out in Red Sox T-shirts with Daisuke Matsuzaka's name on the back -- got to have their real fun, taking part in a clinic with Boston's coaching staff, not to mention left-hander Hideki Okajima.

The unique clinic was set up by the Red Sox's partnership with State Street.

Sox manager Terry Francona greeted the group just prior to the clinic, as did Okajima.

To say that the young players looked awed would be an understatement.

"For these kids to meet Okajima, I'm hoping this is exciting for them," said Francona. "Our coaches will do a good job with them. They'll have some enthusiasm. We're supposed to be ambassadors for baseball. Hopefully this is something that will do something like that, because the kids do look enthusiastic, and that's great."

The coaches were set up at various stations throughout Tokyo Dome's field. There were translators for each coach. Third-base coach DeMarlo Hale was in charge of baserunning.

"It's a very important part of the game," Hale told the kids. "This is where we score the runs at. We'll do straight line running, how we're going to touch the bag, and also the turns we're going to make at first."

Pitching coach John Farrell had his pitchers lined up and went through the full mechanics of both the windup and stretch deliveries.

"Drop, drive and release," said Farrell. "Bend your back."

Hitting coach Dave Magadan went through all the fundamentals of a good swing.

"There's a lot of different ways to hit," said Magadan. "I fully believe if you keep your head still, you create that separation and have balance."

Jay Monahan of Fenway Sports Group helped coordinate the event.

"These kids are wired," said Monahan. "I walked out like an hour ago and they were already lined up. That's what makes the partnership between the Red Sox and State Street great. They wanted to do this, we wanted to do it and it's a very simple, easy thing to do, and to do well."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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