Today Daisuke Matsuzaka officially "arrived" at Spring Training. His activities were mostly being interviewed by the media. He also played catch with George Kotteras, a recently signed addition to the team. Kotteras will probably be the team's 3rd catcher this season. Daisuke also found his locker, which was right in between Jason Varitek and Hideki Okajima.
The Red Sox are really going all out to make Matsuzaka's transition as smoothe as possible. From coaches and staff learning phrases in Japanese, to facilitating the massive contingent of Japanese media following Matsuzaka around.
From watching some of his condensed games from the WBC (they were on YouTube, as soon as I find them, I can post them back up again), I've developed a few observations and thoughts on Matsuzaka.
He goes very deeply into counts, often falling behind or failing to get ahead. This isn't such a bad thing, as he has confidence to throw any pitch in any situation (reminiscent of Pedro in that regard). I'm somewhat concerned that perhaps MLB hitters will take advantage of this. The more pitches any hitter sees in an at-bat, the more likely he will hit one and hit it well. The batters in MLB adjust very well within their at-bats. Furthermore, the other hitters watching are also able to learn. NPB hitters aren't minor league hitters, per se, but they aren't on the same level as MLB hitters.
I also am worrying about the confidence he has with any pitch in any situation. Against NPB hitters, this has worked out nicely, but MLB hitters are far different. He might not be able to rely on his sheer talent to overwhelm a hitter no matter what the count is.
I also think that when Matsuzaka begins pitching to MLB hitters, they will have a slight edge. They will have seen an array of his pitches before ever facing him. If Matsuzaka struggles just a little bit, due to new surroundings, the 5 man rotation, hitters knowing his pitches, whatever, he might begin to lose some of that confidence. This is a player who has been the best since he was in high school (and perhaps even before that). Many times, even the best athletes struggle when they face competition with a talent level similar to their own.
I saw Daisuke throw some really good pitches in these videos, many of them in pressure situations. And he came out on top. So I've seen some of his talent, and it looks good. But what will truly be tested this season and seasons ahead, will be his character.
IN OTHER NEWS...
The Boston Celtics are finally back in the headlines around Boston and the nation.
Why? Because they're trying their best to get the #1 pick in the NBA draft. The Celtics are 12-38 on the season, have lost their last 18 straight games, Right now, the Celtics have the worst record in the NBA, one game behind the Memphis Grizzlies. Of course, this failure could backfire and an unlucky bounce of the ping pong balls could result in a less than stellar draft pick for the Celtics.
Which would really make them suck.
BU won the Beanpot Tournament for the 3rd year in a row, the 11th time in 13 years, and the 28th time overall. They did it in style with a 2-1 win over rival BC in Overtime.