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Second Interview With Nico-Chan

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Second Interview With Nico-Chan
This was my second interview with CJ Nitkowski of the SoftBank Hawks. But did anybody notice that he has been pitching worse since I did this interview? I wonder...*wink*

Me: Would you classify Yahoo Dome as a pitcher's park? Have you ever given up a long hit thinking, "that would be a home run anywhere else?"

CJ: No, the Yahoo Dome is one of the few pitcher's parks in Japan. If anything I have let up balls that have made me say, "that's a HR in just about every other park in Japan."

Me: How did you get to know Ohba so well? Was he a roommate of yours in Miyazaki or were you workout buddies? Do you see a lot of yourself in Ohba since he's only 22?

CJ: No roommates in Japan, everyone gets there own room. Ohba has an outgoing personality and likes to practice English, which he needs a lot of. He is just a young, fun player, we have a lot of laughs when we're together. I might see a little of me in Ohba although I'd like to think I was a little smarter than he is. We were both high first round draft picks, similar in the sense that we both like to joke around and I remember going through the struggles he is going through when I was 22.

Me: You seem to be taking a mentor role to the younger pitchers, especially Hideaki Takahashi, and the aforementioned Ohba. Has it gotten easier in your second season to communicate to your teammates?

CJ: My Japanese is getter better but I have a long way to go. It's hard to mentor to guys because of the language barrier but that doesn't stop me from trying. I try to encourage these guys when they are down because no one else around here seems to want to do it. The Japanese coach with a militant style and that just doesn't produce good results in the 21st century in my opinion. I do the best I can but I wish I could talk more with these guys. I have a lot I want to share with them.

Me: How's Jason Standridge doing? We haven't seen him since the beginning of the season, and frankly I would love to see him help the team during the stretch run.

CJ: Jason is back with us now and will make a start on the 16th.

Me: With all the injuries the Hawks have had this season, do you ever wonder if it will ever stop or will you finally get healthy enough to make a good stretch run and get some type of home-field advantage for the playoffs?

CJ: The injuries are interesting thing for me. I watch what are pitchers do, for two years now, and it's easy for me to see what we have had so many injuries. Nobody else seems to notice or people are just afraid to change. But there is a reason why almost every pitcher in this organization has missed time because of an injury but no one is held accountable for it and no one seems to say anything about it. I equate it to watching a guy jump off a bridge and everyone just follows. As far as the position players I think some of it just bad luck (Tamura *note: I still claim responsibility for Tamura's injury*). It would be nice to have a full squad but it doesn't look like we'll have that luxury this season.

Me: Have you ever gotten injured in your career?

CJ: I have been very blessed with no major injuries in my career. I missed 3 games this year because I tweaked a muscle in my side. Other than that I don't remember a time where I had to miss games. I was placed on the DL is 1996 with the Tigers but that was not because of an injury, it was because I was pitching poorly.

Me: Aside from Yahoo Dome, what's your favorite park to pitch at in Japan?

CJ: I like the Central League stadiums, Nagoya, Tokyo Dome. I also like Saporro and Osaka.

Me: In almost 2 seasons in Japan, what has been your favorite moment?

CJ: It was fun for me to get the last out in the interleague championship clinching game. Landing at the airport in Atlanta at the end of the season is another favorite moment.

Me: Do you feel a bit more comfortable on the mound in your 2nd season since you have more of a book on hitters?

CJ: Much more comfortable, much more relaxed. I just wish I could get 60-65 games to show what I can do. I still feel like I am being held back. It's a battle for the foreign player on this team. I am used to getting into a lot of games, that is when I am most effective. I have been like that my whole career. My pitching knows that but his advice falls on deaf ears.

Me: What's your favorite food that you've tried since you've been in Japan?

CJ: Yakiniku and ramen.

Once again, I would like to thank Nitkowski for doing another interview, but I would like to a apologize to him profusely since I think I jinxed him, he's been pitching poorly since he replied 8 days ago.

This is a site about Pro Yakyu (Japanese Baseball), not about who the next player to go over to MLB is. It's a community of Pro Yakyu fans who have come together to share their knowledge and opinions with the world. It's a place to follow teams and individuals playing baseball in Japan (and Asia), and to learn about Japanese (and Asian) culture through baseball.

It is my sincere hope that once you learn a bit about what we're about here that you will join the community of contributors.

Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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