Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Deep in the heart
Posted Apr 9, 2007 by Marc Lancaster
Updated Apr 9, 2007 at 06:45 PM
ARLINGTON, Texas—Greetings from the newly re-renamed Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Gray conditions here, but not as bad as it was over the weekend for the Rangers’ series against the Sox. Supposed to warm up tomorrow, though. Pretty standard lineup for the Rays in Edwin Jackson’s season debut, with the exception of the expected catcher swap.
Incidentally, Akinori Iwamura and his namesake, Rangers closer (for now) Akinori Otsuka, are good friends. Iwamura’s brother Takashi actually played on the same team as Otsuka more than a decade ago, and Iwamura called Otsuka after the Rays won his rights. They also talked a couple times in spring training.
I’ve been amazed at how far Iwamura’s grasp of English has come in two months. We still get help from his interpreter, Masa Koyanagi, for longer questions and answers, but Aki understands most of what we’re saying and has taken to answering in English more often. He’s even more comfortable with his teammates and has been conversing easily with them for a while. A little while ago, just before BP, Ty Wigginton got down in a catcher’s crouch and asked Aki to throw him the infamous “gyroball” supposedly favored by Daisuke Matsuzaka. Aki tried it a few times, explaining it to Jim Hickey and Steve Henderson along the way.