Crasnick on Johjima

Jeff · March 6, 2006 at 11:47 am · Filed Under Mariners 

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has a feature on Kenji Johjima’s transition to American baseball.

Speaking of Japanese players, how about Japan losing to Korea in the World Baseball Classic? Ichiro made the final out, no less. Japan still makes the second round, so let the fretting about potential fatigue in the Mariners’ star right fielder continue.


29 Responses to “Crasnick on Johjima”

  1. Karen on March 6th, 2006 12:19 pm

    A poster at another board said yesterday, “Great game just now. Korea takes it to Japan, on their home field no less, 3-2. Seung Yeop Lee had the big blow, a 2-run shot in the 8th. And once again the Korean pitching was outstanding. That should sufficiently shut up Ichiro’s and Daisuke’s trash-talking for a while.”

    That sounded so out-of-character for the normally “cool” Ichiro that I questioned the poster. But there is a published link to what Ichiro said: “Not only will we win, but also we’ll make Japanese baseball fans feel that they saw a truly great game. I want to make [Korea and Taiwan] see that they will not be able to beat Japan in next 30 years.”

    Ouch. Presumably a comment like that is based on a century’s-worth of enmity between Korea and Japan, but…wow!

  2. Deanna on March 6th, 2006 12:34 pm

    I still don’t get why Oh didn’t let Sugiuchi pitch another inning, but I was mostly asleep by that point. Sigh.

    But yeah, Ichiro was pretty awful at the plate during the series compared to the rest of the team.

  3. IceX on March 6th, 2006 1:17 pm

    The Donga Ilbo translation isn’t entirely correct.


    Translates more like…

    “I’d like to win in a way that will make them think ‘We won’t catch up to Japan for another 30 years’”

    Though it looks like hairsplitting, the nuance of Japanese is very important to keep a quote in context. And keep in mind that the Donga is probably translating from Japanese to Korean to English. This quote differs little from Ichiro’s regular talk to the press, and is hardly on the level of “We’s gonna beat those infidels of Asia into submission like they deserved it in World War II”.

    Petty sensationalism on the part of the Korean press, IMO.

  4. vj on March 6th, 2006 1:19 pm

    After having heard about Boone retiring, Ichiro must have been worried that cockiness might go out of style.

  5. Smegmalicious on March 6th, 2006 1:48 pm

    So you guys that are watching this, Ichiro looks genuinely bad, or does he look like he’s just not ready yet?

  6. Steve T on March 6th, 2006 2:03 pm

    Would Ichiro be upset to see some of this great Korean pitching in an M’s uniform? He wouldn’t have to face them. It would be nice to see somebody get a few outs for us on the other four days.

  7. pinball1973 on March 6th, 2006 2:29 pm

    The Korean team is very, very good, but Japan was still the better team, clearly.
    The score was 3-2, and sometimes the better team doesn’t win if the breaks go the other way; Korea’s team got every small break, and had the two key plays of the game as well.

    Oh, and to continue moaning, the homeplate umpiring was awful throughout: the strike zone floated all over, to the surprise and disgust of the players, with even the Japanes commentary being taken by surprise on key calls (the home run was hit on a 3-1 count when no one could believe it wasn’t as 2-2).

    Good game, even though my guys lost.

  8. Mat on March 6th, 2006 2:51 pm

    “So you guys that are watching this, Ichiro looks genuinely bad, or does he look like he’s just not ready yet?”

    I don’t think he really looks all that bad, he looks mostly like he did last year. Also, I don’t know how often Ichiro has faced most of these pitchers, or how much video there is of them. I imagine that’s putting him at something of a disadvantage compared to hitting for the Mariners.

    Even then, he’s 3 for 13, for .231 average and with 2 walks and a reached-on-error for a .375 OBP. And as I recall, he hit the ball pretty hard in one of his first at-bats in the game vs. China, but just hit it right at someone.

    But really, it’s three games. Practically anything can happen over the course of three games, especially when you’re mainly a singles hitter.

  9. leetinsleyfanclub on March 6th, 2006 2:52 pm

    In regards to Crasnick’s article, it seems like everyone in the world except Mike Hargrove thinks that Kenji Johjima is out of place hitting in the two hole. Didn’t Hargrove say he wants to keep Johjima “in his comfort zone”? Hmmmm, something tells me that a guy who hasn’t taken a pitch all spring may not feel warm and cozy batting second. Between this and making Ichiro take pitches, Hargrove is going to incite another war with Japan.

    Oh, and I saw that Ryan Franklin gave up two runs in two innings today. He left in the second inning trailing 2-0 and promptly complained he wasn’t getting any run support.

  10. Smegmalicious on March 6th, 2006 3:11 pm

    Thanks, Mat. I’m mainly just looking for general impressions on how he looks. I know the results are too small a sample to make much out of.

  11. Mike Snow on March 6th, 2006 3:14 pm

    You can look at it as a slump, or you can look at it as a three-game hitting streak.

  12. ray on March 6th, 2006 3:36 pm

    Yes, Ichiro looked bad, in that he looked like his 2005 version. The strange thing is he was taking a lot of first and second pitches (especially first) and they were pretty much all strikes. And remember all those balls hit to second basemen last year… well, he did a lot of that, too. If Ichiro is trying to adjust from last year, it isn’t working so far. We’ll see how this goes into spring training. And for those who want Ichiro to take more walks, apparently he has listened to you. He has a walk per game, so 3 walks in 3 games — but no K’s (I’m pretty sure) so his rate so far is 0K/3BB. As for his stance, his front leg is more towards 1st base than his back leg and he stands close to the plate as usual. The openness of his stance is very noticeable. Was it like that last year? I can’t remember. What else…. Oh, most of his hits have been groundballs, 2nd most flyballs, 3rd by line drives. If you can think of something else, I’ll try to remember. I taped a couple of games so I can go back and look.

  13. Deanna on March 6th, 2006 4:01 pm

    What I wonder is, if Ichiro was supposed to be the best hitter on the Japan WBC team, and pretty much everyone else was feasting on the China and Taiwan pitching, why wasn’t he? Ogasawara, Matsunaka, Tamura, Nishioka, and even the normally light-hitting Kawasaki were totally mashing the opposing pitchers.

    The strike zone was a little weird, sure, but I dunno. Hopefully Ichiro’s just getting warmed up, or something.

  14. jtopps on March 6th, 2006 4:44 pm

    Do you think Ichiro has developed a different approach based on his opponents? In this case, attempting to hit Asian pitching differently than if he were squaring off against MLB pitching. Maybe its throwing him off?

    I dunno — Johjima has made references to a difference in the way pitchers challenge hitters over here and I just wonder.

  15. Smegmalicious on March 6th, 2006 4:54 pm

    Deanna, my pet theory is he’s tinkering still. Looking at the gimmie games as spring training.

  16. Baseline on March 6th, 2006 6:20 pm

    Is it me, or was his stance a bit different from last season. I could’ve been seeing things.

  17. Typical Idiot Fan on March 6th, 2006 6:47 pm

    Ichiro has changed the position of his front leg a few times since he’s been a Mariner. Overall I don’t think his stance is any different from the one he was using most of last year.

  18. JMB on March 6th, 2006 7:55 pm

    It wouldn’t surprise me if Ichiro changed his stance… if you recall, Edgar did this quite often. Good hitters make adjustments.

  19. joser on March 6th, 2006 8:03 pm

    Off topic, but Kirby got called up. RIP.

  20. JMB on March 6th, 2006 8:14 pm

    Puckett has a thread now.

  21. Gomez on March 6th, 2006 9:53 pm

    Someone mentioned, can’t remember where, that maybe Ichiro is struggling in the WBC because he’s trying to pull the ball more and drive it, a la last year, rather than take his traditional slap-hitting approach that led to him being one of the best hitters in baseball. I haven’t seen the games so I can’t comment either way. Readers who’ve watched, C/D?

  22. Baseline on March 6th, 2006 10:21 pm

    I’ve only seen the first game against China, and that’s the first thing that I noticed. His stance is more pronounced (IMO)than last season. Maybe he’s just adjusting and tinkering?

  23. ray on March 7th, 2006 12:05 am

    it seemed like he was flip flopping. In the first game, it seemed like he was trying to pull. Then in the second not, then in the third game, a kind of a mix. I think he either is not sure what to do, or just doesn’t feel comfortable at all. I think one thing we haven’t thought about is the pressure. Ichiro is the big star coming home, has been made the unofficial captain, and is also reported on and expected to comment after each game. Even during the broadcasts, everything was Ichiro, Ichiro, Ichiro. I think he is expected to be the best hitter during these games.I think this might be too much especially with Iguchi and Matsui not on the team. I think with those two on the focus would have been more on those two and thus less pressure as the only MLB offensive representative.

  24. vj on March 7th, 2006 2:04 am

    I don’t know if Jason is still unexcited but I bet the Korean Baseball fans are getting excited, now.

  25. greenlaw9 on March 7th, 2006 3:11 am

    I was just tinkering around on the WBC website (can’t sleep: drank WAY too much coffee) and pulled up the press release for the USA’s starting lineup for tomorrow’s 1:00pm (pst) game against Mexico…

    Team USA

    Johnny Damon, LF
    Derek Jeter, SS
    Ken Griffey Jr., CF
    Alex Rodriguez, 3B
    Mark Teixeira, DH
    Derrek Lee, 1B
    Brian Schneider, C
    Randy Winn, RF
    Chase Utley, 2B
    Jake Peavy, RHP

    Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m watching this game solely for lineup spots three and four…

    Even though they won’t be wearing the compass rose, it should still be something to see.

    Just thought I’d give everyone else a head’s up (especially in light of the recent comments by Gillick). It’ll be on ESPN2.

  26. Adam S on March 7th, 2006 6:26 am

    Interesting to see the respect Griffey still gets for the player he was in the 90s. He should be hitting 5th or 6th in this lineup, but that’s not a huge deal especially since Lee is somewhat a one-year wonder at this point. But he’s the worst CF of the three by far. I’d play Winn in LF, Damon in CF and Griffey in RF. Actually I’d DH Griffey and play Lee in RF given that choice of players 🙂

  27. oNeiRiC232 on March 7th, 2006 8:54 am

    Griffey’s second half stats last year were that of a 3-hole guy. He still has some pop in his bat when fully healthy.

  28. vj on March 7th, 2006 9:34 am

    Re the Team USA lineup: Randy Winn in right field does look strange. I agree with Adam S that Griffey should play there if only because neither Winn nor Damon are known for their great arms.

  29. zzyzx on March 7th, 2006 11:22 am

    Hey! Beltre just singled off of Santana and stole second!

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