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March 19, 2009

Tatsunori Hara

Michihiro Ogasawara


THE MODERATOR: Good evening. Representing Team Japan, we have the manager, Tatsunori Hara, and infielder, Michihiro Ogasawara. I will ask the representatives to share their view of the game.
Manager Hara, please share your view of the game.
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, compared to yesterday, and then yesterday we learned we were advancing to Los Angeles, and this was after that fact. Tonight was against Korea. And psychologically, I was -- myself, as well as all the players, it was like a flat condition, psychologically. Utsumi, starting pitcher, he was rather unstable, but he allowed only one score.
Then it turned around, and the control was back in our hands again. And when the score turned even, all of us had to unite as one, and we had to concentrate. And that resulted in us scoring additional three runs, so that was a good flow.
THE MODERATOR: Michihiro, please share your view of the game.
MICHIHIRO OGASAWARA: First, I was watching from the bench, and then this game was manufactured by everyone, and that was a tense moment. Then in the middle of the game, I was getting ready, during the practice and all of that, and then the opportunity was right there, and I walked right into it.
Then I was tenacious, and I was able to produce something at-bat. And everyone worked hard, they did their share, and we were able to win tonight. So that was good for all of us.

Q. Mr. Hara, two questions. What is the condition of Murata? Will he be able to play in the next round?
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, as far as Murata is concerned, his injury is a major injury. He's not in a condition to be able to play. So he will have to be replaced, and that's what WBC told me, and that's the rules. I, as a manager to NPB, the player, and we need to replace, and we are going to replace.
Of course, I did talk to Murata, and he did a good job. However, we have other important games left and he has to be replaced. And I did talk with him about that. Then Murata was very sad, and he said he was sorry about this, what had happened. Now he has to leave the game.
In terms of Kitahara, the request had been made of the NPB, and they are going to soon answer that.

Q. Secondly, what is your take on the U.S. as your next opponent?
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, there's little time left, and that time is welcome, for sure. I am very excited about that, myself, to play against the American baseball team. When I started watching the major league, I was very impressed. We need to catch up with the major leagues, and we need to go beyond that, and that was the education and the circumstances of how I played the baseball. That was my baseball.
I have a great deal of respect for American baseball. And here is a great opportunity right in front of me, and I am so excited about that.

Q. Mr. Hara, in your own mind, how important is it to be No. 1 seed, No. 2 seed? Does it really matter? And how much, if at all, did you withhold any players or energy of any kind in trying to preserve yourself for the next round?
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, I think I keep repeating myself. Rather than worrying about the other team, I need to concentrate on our own team, on our baseball. In that sense -- everyone is waiting for the best opportunity. That is what we are all focussing on right now.

Q. Manager Hara, how did you make the decision to bring in Kitahara, and will you expect word from the NPB? And is it just the NPB or does Hiroshima have a say in the matter as well?
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, Murata had to leave the game, and he's not there anymore. So to replace Murata, I had to look for somebody who can replace him. Then Kitahara is the only one. And that's the reason why I chose and selected Kitahara.

Q. Mr. Hara, you mentioned earlier growing up, watching the American major leagues and being impressed by them. I'm curious if there were teams, players in particular, that you watched, that you enjoyed their games? Who in particular might have influenced you from the American game?
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, first, when I was a young boy going to grade school, we have the library. At first, I read the story about "Babe Ruth." And, of course, before that, major league baseball, I knew about that. I had some knowledge about that. And then when I read the Babe Ruth book, and I was so interested about that, that was when I was in grade school, a student, maybe second grade, maybe third grade, Babe Ruth, the story of Babe Ruth. And I keep repeating about the title, it was the Babe Ruth Story.

Q. Today's game, Ogasawara, and then offense, and Murata was injured, and so I thought maybe the game was going to be extended. Did you think about that? Or you wanted to score some before the game was going to be extended?
TATSUNORI HARA: There is only two ways. Of course, I did think about the game extension, and Ishihara, and the, and Kawasaki, and Fukudome, they were still there. So I was thinking about that, also.
Of course, when it is offense, and they caught up, and there was a chance, and that's what it was.

Q. You had game with Korea today, fourth game. Is there anything you recognize about that? And going into the final, do you have confidence going into that game? Could you talk about that?
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, first of all, the final round, there is a possibility we may be facing each other. Of course, Japan in the semifinal has to beat the U.S. team, and that is something we need to focus on.
Then the way to fight or play baseball is right now. It is continuing. So I would like to refrain from making comments here. When all is over, there is a very good possibility we may have to face off again. And I, myself, how I am going to face off with Korea is something to discuss when all is over. I will be speaking my own feelings on all of that to you all.

Q. Manager Hara, who will be your starting pitcher against the United States?
TATSUNORI HARA: Is there a rule that I have to say? Is there rules of such? I don't think there is a rule of that, so I would like to refrain from mentioning the name. You know, this is a part of our game plan. If it works toward -- against us, then I do not want to. When the time is there, then I will be telling you about it.

Q. Manager Hara, because Matsuzaka have faced a lot of the major leaguers, and they have seen them, is that part of the strategy you are thinking about, because they haven't seen Darvish?
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, the style, Japan's style particularly, we are going to stick to that. So just because the opponent is such, I am not going to think about changing. So we are going to do our best within our style.
And then against U.S. team and facing off each other with force, and that is my plan.

Q. Ogasawara, you came in in the middle of the game and then your pitching condition, and also the next tournament, how are you getting ready to be prepared? Are you prepared?
MICHIHIRO OGASAWARA: My condition is improving. This is what I think. And then to move on to the final round, I am so excited. I am looking forward to it. And within myself, I need to adjust my health condition, and then I will be ready for it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

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