Team Japan Postgame Interview March 3

Team Japan Postgame Interview March 3

Q. Regarding your pitching staff, starting pitcher Maeda, he went five innings, gave up only one base hit, no runs.

KOJI YAMAMOTO: Yes, he is too much worried but he pitched great tonight. Maeda asked how many pitches and I don't know how many pitches. Anyway, he's pretty much in good shape and he's on the way to (feeling) perfect.

Q. Talking about the pitching delays, you put Utsumi for the second pitcher and Sawamura for the fourth pitchers, especially picked Sawamura as a reliever in the eighth inning and he only pitched one inning. Is he going to be the bullpen guy?

KOJI YAMAMOTO: Yes, most of the pitchers, it is going to be their debut for the WBC tournament, and the situation can be changed every day. So Sawamura can be a starter; he can be a reliever.

Q. Talk about the hitting order, the lineups. You change lineups. You put Nakata who has the game opening RBI and also Itoi, who got extra base hit.

KOJI YAMAMOTO: Yes, we score first in the bottom of the second. And then we are kind of struggling a little bit, but such an international competition, one run is a big meaning, and we would like to get some runs in the middle of the innings. In fact, we scored four runs in the fifth inning.

I wish we could score a little bit earlier, but I'm fine. I'm satisfied. And I'm happy that Itoi got the extra base hit.

Q. Talk about Chono, he is struggling it seems like. Do you have any plan for Chono and if you're going to keep using Chono in the starting lineup?

KOJI YAMAMOTO: His strong point is he's a free swinger, but since yesterday, or the day before yesterday, the last couple games, he tends to hit the difficult pitches, and he tends to take the easy ball, the easy pitch.

Instead, he swings tough pitch. So I want him to be more focused for his own strike zone.

Q. You defeat China tonight, and Team Japan is 2 0, and it all depends on that Cuba for tomorrow, you can go forward to the second round. How do you feel about that?

KOJI YAMAMOTO: Yes, last night, our first game was a tough game. But we won the first game. That lead us for tonight's winning, and it's a big hope that I'm not saying I am but every game is important, and we won the first game, second game. That's a very important thing.

Q. How do you feel about WBC debut as a starter?

MAEDA KENTA: Yes, with limitation of the number of pitches, I am happy that I went through the fifth inning, and as of my debut, I am okay I think.

Q. Comparing tonight's pitching and the last regular season, which level are you in right now?

MAEDA KENTA: Yes, imagine that I have to be 100 percent right now, but I don't think I can be right now. I can still be a better pitcher throughout this tournament. So I'm still working on it.

Q. Which part do you want to fix for the future?

MAEDA KENTA: Yes, tonight I gave up a double. That pitch was something I want to locate. These are the things I want to fix. And if I can do that, I can be a better pitcher. These location is my fix point.

Q. You've got a stolen base and bases loaded, you've got a three run double, how do you feel about that?

ITOI YOSHIO: Yes, this is a do or die game, and I am so happy because we win.

Q. Last night you were hitting in the clean up spot and you are hitting in the fifth spot tonight; is there a big difference between hitting the clean up and the fifth spot?

ITOI YOSHIO: Yes, hitting order, I think Mr. Abe is the only player who should hit in the clean up spot, and I'm happy I got a base hit and a couple RBIs.

Q. The Chinese starter, Luo, kept your batters pretty tied up. What kind of adjustments did you want them to make to him?

KOJI YAMAMOTO: Yes, Luo keeps the ball down. So I told my players not to swing, not to take not to swing at Luo's pitches, from our hitting coach.

Q. Until tonight's outing, you went through like a month, I feel like you got a lot of pressure from the media and the fans; do you feel a lot of that pressure? Being a starting pitcher, was it tough to adjust?

MAEDA KENTA: Yes, compared to the regular year, I have to be a little bit earlier to pitch, and also from the media, I've got a lot of noise.

So I have a little bit of nerves. But the last outing against Australia, that gave me confidence. From that last outing, I've got a week, so I can be a good adjustment. I've got a good preparation, so I am fine.

I'm always the type of guy, struggling in practice session, but be ready for the game always. So that's the type who I am right now.

Q. This is an international match, it's a big difference between being a starter for an international match, or you don't change as usual?

MAEDA KENTA: Yes, I am trying to focus as who I am right now. The only difference is the actual baseball. The baseball is a little bit different. But bottom line is no change, no major change.

Q. You defeated two in a row, and you are still far away for round two, and then the game against Cuba is very important. Are you going to be seriously playing against Cuba, or is that game going to be a preparation for the round two, Tokyo round?

KOJI YAMAMOTO: Yes, we have got a couple pitchers who do not have an opportunity to pitch at WBC yet, so these pitchers are going to pitch. And also, to go to the second round, in the first place, and the second place is an important issue, but overall, we'll be 100 percent ready for the game against Cuba.