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March 14, 2009

Norichika Aoki

Tatsunori Hara


THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Welcome to San Diego and the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Today from Team Japan, we have manager Tatsunori Hara, and outfielder Norichika Aoki.

Q. Okay. First, Manager Hara, this is the second round for Japan. You are coming back again to San Diego. How do you feel about that?
TATSUNORI HARA: Tomorrow is going to start the real fight, and the getting ready of the team itself. We are all excited and so am I. I am getting all excited and worked up.
NORICHIKA AOKI: No, I am getting excited. And right now, we are going to have to beat Cuba.

Q. In San Diego three years ago, you remember that?
NORICHIKA AOKI: Yes, I remember, and I went to the locker room and I remember we had the big celebration three years ago. And I just hope this time is going to be the same. And I am all worked up.

Q. You did the training, and you came all this way, and you are doing fine, and the Team Japan, they are all doing fine, are they?
TATSUNORI HARA: Jan 15th to February 15th, we group together. And on the 16th, that's what started. And so far, we spend a good time together, and we were able to use time very nicely. Then all the training and everything, according to the game plans. And today and tomorrow, we just have to do one step at a time. And then I think we are getting stronger, and we are ready and everything is moving forward according to the schedule.

Q. And then Arizona, and the player Nakajima was sick and he had high fever. How is he doing there?
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, the thing I am concerned about is, today he is -- his fever is down now, that's what I understand. Then his practice, he's not practicing today, just in case.
And then tomorrow, he is getting ready for tomorrow, the big game. And then today, it's more important to rest well today. And that was a decision that was determined. So, therefore, he is not training today.
He is a Young player, a gutsy guy, and so I think he is going to be ready for the play.

Q. Depending on tomorrow, and then starting lineup, it may change? What do you think about that?
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, tomorrow, I think -- what I think about is maybe tomorrow is a difficult one, but never know. All of a sudden, he may get better, and as we talk to him. So I'm not denying the possibility, he may show up.

Q. And right now, it's a little bit too early to say, but if you can mention the name of the pitcher, can you mention about the name of the pitcher here?
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, it's a little too early to say, but we -- we just have to face off the game, and we are here already. So media in front of the media, tomorrow Matsuzaka, Daisuke, is going to be the pitcher.

Q. The last time Japan played Cuba here, you won the championship. Any reflections on that? Always Hara the manager, but do you have any thoughts on the fact that you are back here playing the Cubans again here at Petco?
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, Cuba tomorrow, we're going to have to face off, and then the remaining eight teams. And all of them are very good strong teams, there is no question about that. And then the Cuban team, their strength, in details, I cannot tell you, but I do know that they are balanced out and a very good and strong team. And that's the extent I know.
Then rather than thinking and worrying about the Cuba team, and the Samurai Japan, I am concentrating on my own team, one step at a time. And whether it's Cuba or anyone else, we can beat them, that's what I am thinking.

Q. I have a question to Aoki. Last time you fought against Cuba, and some of the team members, they weren't here. What do you think about Cuba? In the baseball game against Cuba, what do you have to do to beat the team?
NORICHIKA AOKI: If I am allowed to say, this team is a strong team, so the pitchers, outfielders, and all this time, I worry about the outfielders, their swing, their speed, all of that. I think compared with major leaguers, they are faster. That's the impression I have so far.
But I, as an individual -- well, let's say the Coach -- whatever they expect out of me, I just have to do the best, and that's all I can do. And I'm going to do the best.

Q. What do you think about defending your World Baseball Classic championship against the Cubans, the same team you beat three years ago?
TATSUNORI HARA: As I mentioned earlier, well, I cannot be worried about them too much. I just have to be concentrating on Team Japan, and we just have to do our thing. First things first.

Q. Matsuzaka, pitcher, and Arizona, he wasn't able to play, so you may have to change schedule a little bit? Pitcher Matsuzaka, how is he doing and what do you expect Matsuzaka to be the pitcher tomorrow? What are you expecting out of him tomorrow, Matsuzaka?
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, Matsuzaka, Daisuke, it's Daisuke, and he is the pitcher the way he is. In Tokyo, round, he loves pitching there. And then that game, an hour later, the first round in San Diego, and I told him you going to be the pitcher, I told him that.
Of course, he wasn't able to play in exhibition, but if it is Daisuke, regardless of what condition he is placed, he is going to do his best tomorrow. There's no question about that.

Q. Mr. Aoki, Matsuzaka and Arizona, the exhibition game, so far you are doing good, your batting condition is good. What are the things you have to be careful about? Can you let us know?
NORICHIKA AOKI: Let me tell you, one game at a time. I just have to do my best and that's how I do the batting. And then, of course, if there is no runner, then I have to get on base, first of all. And if I am in a scoring position, then I'm going to have to send the runner home.
So the team, what is the most important thing? For the team to win. That's what I think about all the time.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much for coming.

End of FastScripts

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