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March 7, 2009

Tatsunori Hara

Daisuke Matsuzaka


Q. Do you think that Ichiro gave the team and the fans the biggest lift, because people were concerned about his last performance, and he started it off early?
TATSUNORI HARA: Yes, of course, Ichiro's lead-off single is huge to us. Recently he was such a genius hitter, but he went 0-for-5. So I would imagine that Ichiro had a huge stress.
But today's contest was such a huge game, and this tournament, this game was so important. Ichiro gave us a big lead-off hit.

Q. Now, when you played against China, your offense was not as powerful as today, but your hitters were very powerful today and swung well. Is that because you had a very good scouting report and did a great analysis against Korea?
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, of course, we analyzed it and we have selected among us as Team Japan.
However, having said that, today every player played his own game, and was able to hit as usual and was able to use very good timing. They played very well today.

Q. Congratulations on your second win. Now you are getting rid of bad emotions against Korea? You advance to the second round and you only have to play three games in the first round. Is this something you wished?
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, no, even though we had a big win tonight, that means that a lot of players, including myself, were in international matches. It was such a huge win for us.
Our biggest target is winning. We don't count how many games we have to play, how many games is going to be played. We don't count like that. The target is winning.
Like I said the day before yesterday, after you won the first game, the second game is the most important thing. So as we won today's game, that's a very big game. It was a very big game for us.

Q. Now, you won today, and one of the reasons for the victory is you handled the starter, Kwang-Hyun Kim, very well. What was your game plan for him against the game? Did you have any focus or have you found out any weakness when you analyzed him?
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, yes, of course we had a game plan. However, our game plan has not ended, because the WBC has started. And Mr. Jang is a great pitcher; that has not changed. So I cannot tell you how we analyze Mr. Kim at this stage. We expect to face him many more times in the future.

Q. Today, close to 50,000 people are attending, and this is your home stadium. Does are when you are playing in the Tokyo Dome, do you feel that you have an advantage?
TATSUNORI HARA: What if the game is played in Korea? Probably close to 50,000 people are coming, that's my guess. I'm not for sure if it's okay or not for the WBC to be played in Tokyo Dome. The weather conditions don't matter, so that's a good point of playing in the Tokyo Dome.

Q. Now today, Mr. Matsuzaka, he became better, but how do you think about Mr. Matsuzaka; and Mr. Watanabe pitched well, I think you can rely on them. How do you feel about these pitchers?
TATSUNORI HARA: Mr. Matsuzaka had a nice start for this WBC, and Mr. Matsuzaka will pitch again and again. For that, he started well. And the other pitchers also had a very good start for them.

Q. Tell us about Ichiro, the three base hits, and the hit bat, can you tell us about his condition and will you still use him as a lead-off hitter?
TATSUNORI HARA: Yes, tactics-wise, I am not allowed to tell you anything. Each individual single game is so important. So I can't say.

Q. Now, in the top of the second, you were ahead 5-2, and Mr. Ichiro made a hit and Mr. Kim was not able to handle it well, and after that there was a home run. Was that decided by Ichiro, or do you give a signal to Ichiro to bunt?
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, just like I answered the previous question, I would like to give you a detailed debriefing about my game plan after the WBC is over.
But I would like to refrain myself to talk about anything related to playing selection and my game plan, because the game is still going on.

Q. In the first inning, Korea had a two-run lead but Kwang-Hyun Kim gave up a three-run shot. How was your first inning performance?
DAISUKE MATSUZAKA: Well, I was planning to throw a lot of breaking balls to get ahead of the count, but it didn't work out well.
Yes, our offense gave me a three-run lead, but I didn't -- although I had the two-run shot, I didn't feel any nervousness. I was so calm.

Q. The last time at the Beijing Olympics, you did not participate. However, I heard the comment that you were very frustrated to see that Team Japan lost to South Korea. However, you won against Korea today; how did you feel about that?
DAISUKE MATSUZAKA: Well, today we managed to win. However, in the last several years, we are not able to win against Korea for quite a long time.
To defend the title, we have to defeat them, and today's game was very, very important because that was the elimination match. And for us to advance to the next round, we needed to win, so I'm very happy.

Q. The last time you pitched in an international match was three years ago; how was your condition? In your first inning, your breaking ball was thrown into the dirt. What was the cause? You threw too many breaks balls to the dirt.
DAISUKE MATSUZAKA: Well, nothing special. I was as usual. And this was a must-win game, so I might have too much pressure on me. Most of the sliders were on dirt, and the feeling between the bullpen and the actual mound is quite a bit of difference, but I can adjust and handle it.

Q. Now, after the second inning, you had a lot of cut balls. Was that intentionally done?
DAISUKE MATSUZAKA: Well, Johjima, we decided to use fastballs, and we decided to call my pitches around the fastball and cut balls. I used a slider and changeup in between, so that I can improve my sliders and changeups.

Q. You are the team ace, and everybody is relying on you and everybody is watching you, how you pitch. So how do you evaluate yourself in today's contest?
DAISUKE MATSUZAKA: Not a bit. I didn't perform well.

Q. Today Mr. Kim started, and I think this is the first time for you to actually see him. However, you must have read a lot of analysis from the Japanese media. He didn't play exceptional today, but what is your impression of him?
DAISUKE MATSUZAKA: Well, I heard a lot about him being a great pitcher, and he started as the ace of Team Korea. He must have thought that they must have won, so maybe Mr. Kim was too intense. I have seen great pitches from Mr. Kim.

Q. Now, Ichiro sparked the first frame and you scored a lot of runs. In the first game, Ichiro was struggling; did you have any personal comments to Ichiro personally?
DAISUKE MATSUZAKA: In the first tournament back in 2006, Ichiro did not hit well in the first round. So this is like a usual thing.
But if the lead-off hitter gets on base, the team gets momentum of baseball, so Ichiro is such a great lead-off hitter.

Q. You said that you are not good at all, was that because after your teammates made a lot of runs, you earned the runs because of home runs? And next time you pitch in this WBC, what kind of performance would you like to show to the people?
DAISUKE MATSUZAKA: Well, I understand my position, and I should have shut them out in the first innings. However, I earned three runs. That was not a good way to lose a score. So, I was upset at myself.
However, because my teammates made a lot of runs, I developed a very good relationship with Mr. Johjima, so for the third and fourth inning, I think I pitched well. So for the next time, I would like to start pitching just like I did in the third and fourth inning.

End of FastScripts

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