Thursday, April 3, 2008

Now pitching for the Indians: racial diversity!

Posted By on Thu, Apr 3, 2008 at 2:41 PM

handhsake.jpg
An artist's rendering of Jorge Julio and Masa Kobayashi's post-game handshake.
Lost in the tedium of last night’s drumming of the White Sox were a couple of Indians debuts. And since one was Japanese and one Venezuelan, we felt we finally had an opportunity to use the above headline, one we’ve been storing impatiently for quite a while. First, there was Masa Kobayashi, the Japanese import and the man whose picture Joe Borowski throws darts at before every game. .... Warming up before his entrance in the eighth inning, a crowd of Japanese fans surrounded the bullpen and loudly cheered every practice pitch. When he finally got into the game, with a 6-1 lead, Kobayashi didn’t look especially sharp, giving up a couple of singles in 1/3 of an inning. And he studied the catcher’s signs like Kelly Shoppach was telegraphing sanskrit, taking what seemed like more than a minute between each pitch, so long that fans, freezing their asses off, were glad to see him relieved after only one out. Jorge Julio pitched the ninth, and quickly let fans know that this year, he plans on pitching like… Jorge Julio. He gave up a homer to the first batter he faced, A.J. Pierzynski, and heard robust boos five pitches into his Indians career, which has to be some sort of a record. He then gave up Alexei Ramirez’s first Major League hit and walked a guy before getting out of the inning with an ugly pitching line as the start of his Indians career. Emerging from the clubhouse showers afterwards, though, the burly Julio was ebullient. He found Kobayashi, shook his hand and said, “Welcome to the big leagues!” which he had to repeat a few times for Kobayashi to understand. He then turned to Kobayashi’s ubiquitous interpreter and said it again. The interpreter nodded and said, “I’ll tell him.” Julio responded, “No, you—welcome to the big leagues, you!” which was a nice touch, C-Notes thought. “You know, I felt strong,” said Julio, when asked what he thought of his first outing by C-Notes, who, by the way, he called “Papi,” a pretty proud moment for us. “This is the first time these guys seen me, and I wanted to show them something.” Asked if he was nervous, Julio responded vehemently, “Hell no! I never get nervous out there. I’ve been in this league too long, and I know one run doesn’t mean anything, and there are 160 games after this one.” “I wanted to throw him sliders for strikes,” he said of Pierzynski, who had previously hit three homers in seven at-bats off of Julio. “Because those other homers were all off of my fastballs.” Instead, Pierzynski hit his fourth Julio homer. You can’t win them all, Jorge. Just please, if you could, try not to lose them all. – Gus Garcia-Roberts

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