He’s the cover story on Sports Illustrated and will be a hot topic all season long.
“He” is 26-year-old right-handed pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, who signed a major bucks contract last winter with the Red Sox. He pitched today at Citizens Bank Park.
“Dice-K” joined the Red Sox after eight standout seasons with the Seibu Lions in Japan. He compiled a 108-60 career record and was instrumental (3-0, 1.38 ERA) when Japan won the first World Baseball Classic a year ago.
The addition of Matsuzaka has brought on some changes for the Red Sox. They’ve hired a full-time interpreter, enlarged the Press Box as best they can in ancient Fenway Park and constructed an interview room for his post-game starts. At home, the Red Sox will hold two post-game press conferences, one for the Japanese media and one for the other media. On the road, they probably will have just one.
Following today’s outing, Dice-K met with the media in the Media Room. 63 media types were on hand. The interpreter and Dice-K stood at the podium and answered questions. The interpreter repeated the questions and answers in both Japanese and English.
Somewhere between 45 and 55 Japanese media are expected to cover the Red Sox full-time. Some of the games will be on live TV in Japan, even at hours as strange as 2 a.m. Japan time.
Dice-K will make his first start in Kansas City next week and his first start in Boston the following week against Ichiro Suzuki and the Seattle Mariners. One can only imagine how many Japanese media will be there for the Boston debut. The second coming of a Boston Tea Party?