It might be very fair to say that Theo Epstein and Terry Francona would prefer their (previously) rubber armed starter simply STFU, as there’s a world of difference between the Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka over the toll taken by last spring’s World Baseball Classic, as WEEI.com’s Alex Speir explains with ample translation from this interview.
œIf I™m forced to continue to train in this environment, I may no longer be able to pitch like I did in Japan, Matsuzaka is quoted as saying in the article, which was written by Taeko Yoshii. œThe only reason why I managed to win games during the first and second years (in the U.S.) was because I used the savings of the shoulder I built up in Japan. Since I came to the Major Leagues, I couldn’t train in my own way, so now I’ve lost all those savings.
Matsuzaka still laments the fact that the Sox do not permit him to practice nagekomi, or marathon throwing sessions. The pitcher believes that such between-starts work increases arm strength and the touch for breaking pitches. The article suggests that Matsuzaka exhausted his shoulder in the WBC because the Sox would not permit him to practice nagekomi in his build-up to the tournament.
In the story, Matsuzaka articulates his belief that people of different ethnic, racial, and/or national origin have physiological traits that require distinct training programs. When he followed the same routines as his American-born teammates “ which included more weight work than in Japan, but less throwing “ the right-hander concluded that he was not realizing the same results. (It is worth noting that such perspectives about physiological difference and nationality, race and ethnicity, which are often treated as taboo in the U.S. due to their overtones of eugenics, are more common in Japan.)
The pitcher cited the history of Japanese starters whose careers have endured steep declines (Hideo Nomo and Kaz Ishii come to mind) — often accompanied by injuries — after just a couple of years of effectiveness in the U.S. Because of such examples, Matsuzaka said that he is emboldened about the need to return to the training techniques with which he grew up.
œUntil now, many Japanese players have joined the majors, but they usually only lasted for two or three years. I realized from my own experience that this was not due to their individual abilities but because of the difference in training methods, Matsuzaka told Yoshii. œIf someone doesn™t act, the way people think in the Majors would never be changed. I want them to understand this, not only for my sake, but for the sake of future Japanese players in the Major Leagues¦”
Responding to Dice-K’s charges, Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell took to the WEEI airwaves today, arguing, “we’ve got a $103 million investment in a guy that we’ve got to protect.” From the Boston Globe’s David Lefort :
“We have the utmost respect for the baseball norms and cultures that the Japanese baseball league has,” Farrell said. “We not only respect them but we acknowledged them at the time of signing Daisuke. When he came over, no changes were recommended. No changes were mandated by any means. The adjustments in throwing have been in response to the challenges that Daisuke’s faced here. …
“We know that there was a pretty substantial amount of fatigue in the second half of ’07 that we had to give him a breather at the time, largely in part because of the differences in travel, differences in competition, differences in strike zone, a number of the on-field challenges that he faced. So any of the adjustments that we’ve encountered have been in response to how he’s adapted to the rigors of the schedule and the competition here.”