March 2 Team Japan interview

Q. What about the game, what was your impression of it all?

KOJI YAMAMOTO:Yes, it was very, very tough game. It was a very tough game. Team Brazil, it's a very solid ballclub, ball team. It is a good competitor. And throughout the game, Team Japan can get the momentum, that's the point. But overall, we scored three runs, which is good.

Q. You had four hits, a sacrifice bunt and two pinch hitters, both worked well. Tell me about the sacrifice bunt for the clean up hitters and also the pinch hitters.

KOJI YAMAMOTO: Yes, we have a limit of the numbers, so we have to save for the best. For example, this game, eight innings, it was always tough to send pinch hitters on the right situation, but both of them, Ibata and Abe, they both have great experience.

Q. Tell me about the starting pitcher, Tanaka, I'm a little worried about, he had only two innings. Is he still going to be as a starting pitcher, or can he be a reliever?

KOJI YAMAMOTO: Yes, his first inning outing was rough, and today, on his second mound although he is facing the 7th, 8th hitters, it is not as solid pitching, so that's why we changed. As of now, I don't have any plan yet, so we'll think about it later on.

Q. Mr. Ibata, your base hit saved Japan.

HIROKAZU IBATA: As a result, I was very pleased, but I am just nothing but appreciation that Mr. Yamamoto selected me as representing Team Japan.

Q. That situation, what was on your mind when you were at the hitter's box? What was in the mind?

HIROKAZU IBATA: It was clean up hitter the sacrifice bunt, that gave me a little pressure but I was trying to hit it to the opposite field if I got the right pitching. No one knows without swinging, so I just swing, and I'm trying to hit the ball hard to the opposite field. That's the point.

Q. Throughout your long career experience, this base hit can be special.

HIROKAZU IBATA: Yes, it is. But after the base hit, I don't have that much secret really when I pick up first base. I was so excited.

Q. That was a tough game, in the two innings through the middle of the game, what was going through your mind when you were sitting in the dugout?

SHINNOSUKE ABE: Yes, Team Brazil is a very nice team. They approach in their offense, defense is very good. So all I can say is just be patient. I was told all the players, hey, don't rush; be patient, that's what I did.

Q. Tell me about the pinch hit situation, you swung at the first pitch. You swing at the very first pitch.

SHINNOSUKE ABE: Yes, the team gave me the chance, men in scoring position, and that was after I know as catcher's do, pitchers need strike, so I sit on the first pitch if it's a strike. Yes, that was my strategy. The line drive almost got to the second base men, but that became a base hit. Right after I hit, I thought I've got out. But the next moment, when I realize Chono is off the base, so I was a little bit worried about Chono.

Q. After the base hit, you are runner and also catching for the next two innings. How is your knee condition?

SHINNOSUKE ABE: As my understanding, I'm 100% ready. I'm ready. I'm fine, as you'll see, this is it. That is a question for the reporters and the writers.

Q. Pool A has Team Cuba, is Cuba the most tough team?

KOJI YAMAMOTO: Yes, last year we played against two exceptional games, in that two games, my impression is keep us very tough.

Q. When you put the team together, you said with so many young players, it was important to have veteran players like Abe and Ibata; how important is it going forward to have veteran players when you are playing very difficult games like this?

KOJI YAMAMOTO: Ibata, Abe, they are reliable. In the ballgames such as tonight's game, they are very confident and the young players can learn a lot from them.

Q. Tell me about the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, you got a couple three up, three downs. What was the calls that you can send the baserunners on? Is this because it's Game 1 and the player have a lot of pressure on, or the whole lineup is still struggling?

KOJI YAMAMOTO: Some of the players is not in a good condition, and baseball is always a game you play against the pitchers. Tonight's game, the pitchers pitched very nice, and also my strategy, got a run and a double play. It was a one run behind situation, lefty. I was expecting left handed hitters to pull, but the result was one hit and a double play.

Q. Eight inning, you put Nohmi as a reliever, and he pitched one inning. It's normally going to be a reliever, as well?

KOJI YAMAMOTO: Yes, Nohmi pitched great job. He pitched very good. I don't know for the future, he can be a starter, so that's why I kept him only one inning.