Gary Garland / the japanese insider
February 27, 2002
The Worm Turns in a Dazzler In Yokohama Rout
Jason Turman, an ex-Mariners prospect nicknamed "the big worm" for his lanky 6'9" build, made his debut Tuesday for the Yokohama Bay Stars against the Orix Blue Wave at Taira, Okinawa before 7,000 fans, a lot of them children who benefited by the schools letting out early and was impressive, going two perfect innings with three strikeouts in Yokohama's 11-5 kicking of the Blue Wave.
Former Ranger Scott Sheldon got into his first Japanese contest as well and fanned in his one at bat. Sheldon's new teammate, Fernando Seguignol, went 0-2 with a K in his initial Japanese outing.
While Turman was putting Orix batters to bed, Blue Wave starter Ed Yarnell, an ex-Red, saw an otherwise fine performance marred by former Marlins prospect Mike Gulan insideouting one of his fastballs into the right field grass with nobody on to put the Bay Stars ahead 1-0. That was the only safety surrendered by Yarnell in his two innings, as he struck out one and walked one. Gulan had a double to left center off of a slider from Satoshi Tokumoto in the seventh to accompany the dinger in his three at bats.
Gulan noted to Nikkan Sports that the sliders he's seen from Japanese pitchers tend to have a bigger break than the ones he has seen in the states. Much to his credit, instead of trying to pull that pitch, the righthanded hitting Gulan is thinking about hitting the ball back up the middle, a strategy that will serve him well in Japan.
But then Stars manager Masaaki Mori sent in ex-Phillies and Twins righty Shane Bowers, 3-13 with a 4.39 ERA 2001 for Yokohama, and after a flawless third, Bowers experienced control problems in the fourth, walking three and giving up a single to tie the game up at one apiece.
Orix tacked on a run in the fifth, when normally light hitting catcher Takeshi Hidaka went yard off of righthander Eiji Yano, making it 2-1.
Then Yokohama, at least this last week conjuring up memories of what used to be called "the machine gun offense," went back to work, as they turned seven hits and a base on balls into seven runs, the big blow being a three run jack to right by 14th year veteran infielder Hirofumi Ogawa. Ogawa had a career run producing year in 2001, slugging 15 homers and plating 65 of his teammates.
In the following inning, Orix reliever Yamamoto, with a man already on, hit Yokohama right fielder Mitsuru Tanaka with a pitch and then saw both runners scamper home on a triple by shortstop Seiichi Uchikawa to make it 10-2 Stars.
Tanaka continues to do little wrong this spring, finishing the game with a double, a single, the HBP, and scoring two runs in five chances at the dish. His average is now at .600.
Then in the top of the eighth, Yokohama leftfielder Jun Inoue cranked a homer off of Orix righthander Hisashi Tokano and now the Stsr were up by nine.
In the bottom of the eighth, Orix tried to come back, as they turned an error by Uchikawa and four base hits into three runs to make it 11-5.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Blue Wave got a pinch hit double from Tomotaka Tamaki, but couldn't get anything else going and that was the ballgame.
Ikuro Katsuragi, Ichiro's replacement in right field in 2001, was 0-2 in this one. Last season, Katsuragi batted .268 with 14 homers and 53 RBIs. It must be tough replacing a legend, especially arguably the best all around player in Japanese history. Davey Johnson, after he finished his major league career, replaced the guy who is now Japan's Mr.Baseball, Shigeo Nagashima, at third base for Yomiuri in 1975 and did poorly his first year in Japan, hitting a wan .197 with 13 homers and 38 RBIs as the team tumbled into its first last place finish in its history. To make it especially daunting, Nagashima had been named Yomiuri's manager that same year. The ex-Oriole and Brave recovered with a pretty healthy 1976, batting .275 with 26 homers and 74 RBIs to help Yomiuri go worst to first. Johnson then retired after the Japan Series, which Yomiuri lost to the Hankyu Braves (now Orix).
Missing Body Parts Report: Carlos Castillo's Head
Former Red Sox righthander Carlos Castillo is with the Daiei Hawks these days, but he didn't exactly ingratiate himself to teammates or coaches Tuesday in a practice game against the Seibu Lions.
Castillo, who is reportedly carrying about 270 pounds with him on his 6'2" frame, was playing Tetris on the team bus on the way to the park and then once he got there spent all of his time talking with Lions first baseman Alex Cabrera until 20 minutes before game time. And this was despite the fact that Castillo was supposed to start.
So the game begins and the first pitch he throws, a slider up and on the outer half of the plate, gets pounded into the left centerfield seats by Seibu shortstop Kazuo Matsui, who was batting left handed. Later on in the game, Castillo is victimized by an RBI double.
While a cursory look at the box score would seem to tell you that Castillo "only" gave up two runs in three innings, Castillo historically has been subject to the home run ball and it would behoove him to bear down more mentally. This is a guy who has seen 37 of his pitches get lost in 210 big league innings and he is coming into an offense oriented circuit in the Pacific League.
Castillo blamed the runs on rushing his delivery initially, but he isn't going to last long if he doesn't take a more diligent approach to his job. The good thing for the Boston native is that he won't have to pitch against his teammates such as Tadahito Iguchi, Nobuhiko Matsunaka, Kenji Johjima or Hiroki Kokubo, who all hit over 30 homers last season. But they aren't going to appreciate it if Castillo contributes to inflating the stats of opposing players because he doesn't take his job seriously.