These early spring games don't count for much, but in some instances they have held some significant meaning for certain A's players. One such case is that of Hideki Okajima. The experienced pitcher has been in professional baseball since 1994 and won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2007 -- but this Cactus League game meant a lot to him.
"Even though I am a veteran, it's been a while since I've been on an American mound," Okajima said through interpreter Mike Furutani after the A's 14-10 loss to the Indians at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. "I was a little bit nervous but it turned out OK."
Okajima allowed one hit and a walk in one inning of work but didn't allow any runs. He never even got to throw a pitch the previous time he signed with a big league team. Last offseason the Yankees signed him, but released him after he failed a physical. He ended up pitching in Japan in 2012 with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.
"I was afraid I wouldn't be able to throw in America again, so even stepping on the mound was special," he said.
Josh Donaldson helped make sure Okajima's return to the American mound was a scoreless one. The young third baseman made a swift grab on a scorched ground ball to rob a double off the bat of Juan Diaz. He then made a strong throw over to first to complete the play and end the frame.
"I felt I was lucky that Donaldson made such a great play," Okajima said. "It was a very nice play."
Okajima's outing takes on special meaning
CSN Bay Area | Feb 26