Perhaps the most interesting aspect of today’s press conference occurred near the beginning, when Japanese pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada gave his opening remarks in English.
You had to appreciate the effort.
“My name is Tsuyoshi Wada,” he said. “I’m from Shimane, Japan. I played for Fukoka SoftBank Hawks. I would like to thank you, Baltimore Orioles organization to give me this opportunity. I was dreaming to play major league baseball since I was a college (pitcher), so this is a very special moment. I very (much) look forward to pitch at Camden Yards. Thank you.”
Executive vice president Dan Duquette smiled and said, “All right, Tsuyoshi, nice job there.”
Duquette’s opening remarks also were in English, in case you were wondering.
“We are excited to have Tsuyoshi join our team and we’re honored to have him join our pitching staff,” Duquette said. “Tsuyoshi has been one of the top pitchers in baseball the past two years having won 33 games in Japan. Last year, he was the MVP, the Most Valuable Player, of the Japanese Baseball League, which is an extraordinary accomplishment. He started his career, he was the Rookie of the Year for the great Japanese legend Sadaharu Oh. And he was also a four-time All-Star.
“He has excellent control and he has command of a fastball, a curveball, a slider and a changeup. And he is someone our scouts had targeted and seen extensively the last couple years in Japan. Some clubs would be concerned about his velocity, but when I saw that he could throw his breaking pitches and his changeup over when he is behind in the count to both left and right-handed batters I felt like he had everything to contribute as a starting pitcher for the Orioles. So we are very, very happy to have Tsuyoshi join the team. I also want to thank Yoshi Hasegawa and Octagon Sports for their help in completing the deal that brings Tsuyoshi to the Orioles.”
Duquette compared Wada to two former Orioles left-handers.
“He’s built a lot like Tippy Martinez, the great left-handed reliever that we had here, and his style of pitching is a lot like Scott McGregor, so those are two Orioles pitchers that our fans will remember,” Duquette said. “His physical capabilities and also his stuff remind me of those two great Orioles pitchers.
“I think he’ll be a good addition to our pitching staff. He did pitch over 200 innings last year. He pitched (around) 185 in the regular season and 20 in the postseason. And he pitched a number of innings the year before. So, if we’re going to improve our team, we need starting pitchers that win more games than they lose, and by adding Tsuyoshi to our team, I believe we’re adding a veteran presence and a winning pitcher to help our team.
“In Japan, they get an additional day of rest, so the biggest adjustment I believe he has is a little shorter rest period in the states.”
Asked how many starting candidates he wants to have, Duquette replied, “In the words of the great Oriole manager, Earl Weaver, we want to have deep depth. We’re going to add as many good starting pitchers as we can to improve our pitching. So how many would I like to have? I’d like to have as many good ones as we can get. But I think that Tsuyoshi is a very good addition to our ballclub because of his experience and capability to win games.”
For the rest of the press conference, Wada spoke through an interpreter, Yoshi Hasegawa, director of Japanese baseball for Octagon Sports. The Orioles will hire a full-time interpreter before spring training, and also allow Wada to bring his personal trainer from Japan.
Asked why he chose the Orioles, Wada replied, “I really felt that the orioles were the first team to actually step up to make an offer and show the desire to have me in the organization. I really felt very appreciated by the organization. That’s part of the reason.”
As for any adjustments he’ll need to make, Wada said, “First of all, I really need to make an adjustment in terms of getting used to the culture here and also this ballclub, the Orioles ballclub. That’s the very first step, getting used to the culture here and then go from there.
“I’ve been working for the last three years trying to play for major league baseball. I was preparing for that. So now is a time where I have to make the adjustment, but I should be able to make the adjustment pitching every fifth day.”
Wada said he called former Orioles pitcher Koji Uehara, but not until he already signed with the Orioles.
I’ll post another entry after I return home. I’m having some laptop issues here at the warehouse, and traffic isn’t getting any lighter on the beltway.