Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Watch out, Sidney

FORT TRAFFICJAMBURG, Fla. -- Matt Garza 1, Sidney Ponson 0.

At least that's how I see it. With Ponson twiddling his thumbs after bungling his visa situation, Garza took full advantage of his opportunity to make a good first impression in tonight's G'fruit League opener vs. Boston's A-lineup.

Garza's line: 2 ip, 1 k, 22 pitches (15 strikes). Garza struck out Big Papi swinging on an inside curveball to end the first inning.

I know, it's just two innings in a meaningless game. But Garza came out after making brash comments in today's Pioneer Press story and showed initial signs of backing up his words.


FORT TRAFFICJAMBURG, Fla. -- There is a little extra buzz in the air as the Twins and Red Sox get set to open Grapefruit League play tonight at Boston's City of Palms Park.

That extra buzz is created by the hundreds of Japanese reporters and photographers -- all here for pitching phenom Dice-K, who isn't pitching tonight. As I was grabbing a beer with my good friend and Boston Herald Red Sox beat guy Jeff Horrigan last night, he told me to prepare for the craziness. Then, he turned around from the bar and said, "Look!" It was about 15 Japanese reporters throwing one of their colleagues up in the air. (You've no doubt seen video highlights of this sort of thing from Japanese baseball games.) Pretty cool.

This is crazier than the Hideki Matsui media entourage, although I imagine Godzilla's following was similar when he first came to America. Japanese media also has an interest in Joe Mauer, according to one reporter. Says he's a big deal over there because he played in the annual Major League Baseball all-stars vs. Japanese all-stars game in November. I don't doubt that Joe treated those baseball-crazed fans with great respect, just like he does in his homeland.