Day 2: Work it out
TOKYO DOME — Saturday was a workout day for both the A’s and the Mariners — a chance to get acquainted with the Tokyo Dome and make sure they didn’t forget how to swing and throw on the flight over.
What actually goes down at a workout day?
First, there’s the hang out. Players get dressed in the clubhouse, then trickle into the dugout where they stand around waiting for something to happen. Also, everyone goes through elaborate greetings like they haven’t seen each other since last September. Note: These guys spent 12 hours together on a plane yesterday.
Once everyone is uniformed and reacquainted, it’s time for stretching. The key to a good stretch is to actually get loose while appearing to expend the smallest possible amount of energy. There’s plenty of grunting, groaning, arm flailing and backwards jogging.
After warming up comes the actual baseball part. Pitchers throw long toss and work on mechanics in the outfield. Infielders take ground balls from coaches. Outfielders shag flies. Everyone rotates into the batting cage.
The whole exercise is choreographed chaos. Between players, coaches and staff, there are upwards of 35 people on the field and probably five balls in the air at any given moment. I kept waiting for someone to get beaned by a liner or a relay throw. Turns out, these guys know what they’re doing.
Highlight of the day: Mike Carp pulling a BP homer off Shigeo Nagashima’s retired No. 3 in right-center field. See the SECOM billboard in the photo below? He hit the pillar below that. My professional scouting background indicates that’s significant power.
Each team also had a press conference today at the Tokyo Dome Hotel. Apparently, anyone in Asia who owns a camera — still or video — was invited. All questions and answers were translated into both English and Japanese, meaning that Hisashi Iwakuma was probably just cracking dirty jokes then having the Yomiuri PR guy translate nice things to the English-speaking media. I think Felix was in on it too:
All in all, team workouts were pretty much what you’d expect. Anyone who played Little League ball would recognize some of the big leaguers’ infield drills — although these guys can actually turn an around-the-horn DP. Tomorrow, the games begin …