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March 14, 2006

Daisuke Matsuzaka

Sadaharu Oh


THE MODERATOR: We'll start with questions.
Q. I have a question for pitcher Matsuzaka. We knew that if Japan lost today we didn't have much hope in the coming days. We had our back against the wall. Number one question -- I have two questions. Number one question is, what was your mindset before the game? Number two question is, when the second inning -- at the second inning, there was an error of team Japan. I think there was one out and triple at the time. I think you were put in a corner at the time. What was your thinking at the time?
DAISUKE MATSUZAKA: The first question with my mindset was my condition. I was -- ALL we had was to win after the defeat against the United States the other day. And.
That was all we thought about. And my condition actually was getting better, and I was ready to pitch. And therefore, before the game I was pretty much relaxed and I was ready to concentrate on the game.
The second question, that type of thing happens. I was prepared, and I didn't want to have any runs, and eventually I am glad that did not happen.
Q. This is for Sadaharu. Coming off a demoralizing loss like the other night, how important was it for your team to score first in today's game? And also, what did that four-run fourth inning do for your team?
MANAGER SADAHARU OH: Yes. We had an understanding that Mexico pitchers were pretty good, and we evaluated them highly. What we had to do in order to win this game was to score first, exactly as you said. We expected the game was going to be neck to neck.
But in order to score first, which was a must, a hundred percent, when we used number five and six hitters, I think it was a no-out at the time and first single and double, and we tried to do the double.
We failed to do that, but we were able to -- all we had in mind was to proceed the runner to triple, third base. That's all we had in mind. And, again, it was very important to score first.
Q. Just like we all knew, we didn't have any hopes if we did lose today. And I'm glad we did win today. But I wanted to ask Mr. Matsuzaka about the significance of the country's existence itself? That is to say, how important was it for you to show the flag?
DAISUKE MATSUZAKA: Yes. Up until the game, I did have the weight of the flag, actually the Japan itself, the Hinomaru, the importance of the flag. However, once the game started I was back to myself and I just simply played.
And also, about the the loss the other day, I was not convinced with the outcome, and therefore one day off helped very much. I was able to rejuvenate after one day. And furthermore, from now on, we cannot lose anymore.
Q. This is for Sadaharu Oh. If Japan beats Korea tomorrow night with the tie breaker, it could eliminate Team USA from the tournament. Considering the controversial Team USA victory over Japan on Sunday, would that give you personal satisfaction if that happened?
MANAGER SADAHARU OH: Yes. Tomorrow, if we can win, there won't be any problem. We'll be happy with that. And I want to mention one thing. What's happened happened already. It's already in the past. It's done. So it's over. So what we're looking at is in the future.
And what we need to do right now is just to win more. And, of course, on top of that we can't give them any runs when we play the game with them. So at any rate, we are going to do our best with everything we have.
Q. Yes. I have one question for Manager Sadaharu Oh and one question for Mr. Matsuzaka. My question for Manager Sadaharu Oh, I would like to ask when it is -- when it was that you thought and believed confidently that you won the game? Was it after the two-run homerun or third run, or not even -- you weren't sure until the very end? And my question for Mr. Matsuzaka is, with regarding your condition, you mentioned that it was getting better. Was it psychologically or physically? I learned the pitching was tremendous and it was very good. We thought -- when you were pitching in Japan we thought you could have done better, but you did very well. We were impressed with the outcome that you've done, but we want to know. And last question -- second question for Mr. Matsuzaka is, do you want to come back and pitch again?
MANAGER SADAHARU OH: Yes. Today, I'm very glad we were able to win, and it was really -- we want to thank you for Mr. Matsuzaka's great pitching. And initially, up until the third inning, we couldn't score any runs. And the first run was very, very important. We were longing for it almost. We were yearning for it.
And then we had this unexpected homerun that we enjoyed. And after that, Tamura, I think it was two outs at the time and a triple, then he hit the good liner to center and that was huge.
But I think maybe the fifth run was when I was almost sure that we might make it.
DAISUKE MATSUZAKA: Yes. Again as I mentioned, my condition was getting better. And that was due to the fact that I put -- I tried to start everything a month ahead in comparison with the usual season. Regularly, as you may be aware, that exhibition game would be the time that we try to strengthen up our conditions.
But this time of the year usually we're not perfect yet. However, I try to push it early a little bit, so I was able to adjust to complete the early conditioning. So it's not really psychological issue.
I think I was expecting this, and I planned for this condition to be just perfect. And tomorrow, we will try our best to proceed. I'm not going to make it for the semi-finals, so I'm going to pitch for the final.
Q. Question for manager Sadaharu Oh. Your pitching tonight was very good. Matsuzaka in particular was spectacular. Can you speak a little bit about the job your pitchers did, and specifically how you're able to keep Mexico's offense under control?
MANAGER SADAHARU OH: From the regular seasons, I know. I've seen his place, because we play in the same league in Japan. So I understand how well he pitches, and I was convinced if we could have him do his regular pitching against a very, very strong Mexican hitters, I was convinced that we were able to win and -- I was able to convince -- I was convinced we would be able to win?
Q. I have two questions. First for Sadaharu Oh. What makes Matsuzaka unique among the pitchers? What makes Matsuzaka among the pitchers you have either faced or managed? And one for Matsuzaka. After you've played nine years in Japan, would you be interested in playing in the United States?
MANAGER SADAHARU OH: It's very difficult to answer what the unique point would be. But if I have to say, it's probably his poise when he pitches. He had the perfect pitching from the first professional year, and he can pitch. He can defend. He can pick off.
And mentally he's always stable. Psychologically he's calm. Like today, we had first triple and there was an error, but he didn't -- that didn't bother him. He was back on his feet immediately, and he was able to pitch without any nervousness.
And so that's -- he's probably the pitcher that can let the hitters go to triple, but not to home plate.
DAISUKE MATSUZAKA: By the way, this is my eighth year as a professional player. And about going moving on to Major League, of course that is the target that I've had, and that's the best stage for any ball players to be at.
But I have no intention of appealing or promoting myself this time throughout the games. And what we would all of you to see is how great Japan is.
THE MODERATOR: Last question.
Q. My question is for Manager Oh. Today, your line up for number three, five, and six was different from the previous ones. And what made you change that? Was it from the conditions of the hitters, or was it -- have you thought about the chemistry between the Mexican hitters, players?
MANAGER SADAHARU OH: Yes. I don't think Mexican team had everything -- had good everything. They're more able than today's outcome. But anyways, today's pitcher, Loaiza, I have considered this lineup in order to prepare for pitcher Loaiza.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you everyone. Good night.

End of FastScripts...

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