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News » Culture translates, but pitches . . .

Culture translates, but pitches . . .

Culture translates, but pitches . . .

For Masa Kobayashi, who is playing his second season of Major League Baseball since coming from the Japanese Pacific League, the cultural adjustment has gone well.

"I feel comfortable in the clubhouse and with my teammates," he said through interpreter Ryo Shinkawa. "I feel comfortable off the field. I'm not homesick or any of that."

If only he could get the pitching part down. It is, after all, the reason the Indians are paying him millions. When they signed Kobayashi to a two-year contract worth more than $6 million in November 2007, they expected much, much more than he has delivered.

Kobayashi has an 8.38 ERA in 10 appearances. He has given up 12 hits, walked four and struck out four in 9 2/3 innings. He does not sniff pressure situations.

Last season, Kobayashi went 4-5 with six saves and a 4.53 ERA in 57 appearances. He gave up 65 hits in 55 2/3 innings. He faltered badly in the second half and was shut down in mid-September.

The ineffectiveness in the states follows nine years with Chiba Lotte during which Kobayashi amassed 227 saves and posted a 2.79 ERA in 303 games.

Asked why his stuff has not translated, Kobayashi does not hesitate.

"To put it simply, the level of the players is different," he said. "It's the main reason I'm having trouble compared to Japan."

Based on that answer, the Indians cannot be too optimistic Kobayashi suddenly will figure out how to get outs with regularity.

Kobayashi, a right-hander, also said he is fine physically and that his repertoire has not changed. So odds are his average fastball will not pick up miles per hour or movement, nor will he be adding any pitches or deception to his delivery.

"I've been in pro ball for more than 10 years, so it's difficult to change something immediately," he said. "I can make some adjustments to my daily routine, but it's hard to change anything huge."

Off the deck: Shortstop Jhonny Peralta returned from a two-game benching in style in Sunday's 5-3 loss to Detroit, going 3-for-4 with two runs out of the No. 8 hole. None of the hits was struck particularly hard, but each counts. Peralta, whose average improved from .210 to .229, had been in an 8-for-63 skid.

"It was nice to see Jhonny get the hits, and they were all the other way," Indians manager Eric Wedge said.

Grand theft: Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson made a terrific catch to deny Shin-Soo Choo extra bases in the eighth. Granderson, in full sprint, reached to catch the ball before smashing into the Indians' bullpen fence. In the ninth inning Friday, Granderson went over the wall to bring back Grady Sizemore's bid for a game-winning homer.

Vic the quick: Victor Martinez said before the game that he was unsure if he would use a pink bat, part of Major League Baseball's annual breast-cancer awareness on Mother's Day. Martinez went pink for his first at-bat and grounded to second. Then he returned to his normal-colored bat.

The vast majority of batters on both clubs used pink bats at least once.

Fundamental flaw: Left fielder Ben Francisco's failure to hit the cutoff man, or make an accurate throw home, allowed runners to move up in the second inning and eventually cost the Indians a run. Francisco had attempted to erase Magglio Ordonez tagging on Adam Everett's fly with the bases loaded. Granderson's single to right was enough to score two.

"He air-mailed it," Wedge said. "He's got to throw it down, through the cutoff man."

Sit tight: Highly touted Matt LaPorta did not play again. La-

Porta has just 13 at-bats since being recalled from Class AAA Columbus on May 2.

Wedge said LaPorta is fine physically and that he will play. Wedge said he wanted to go with a more seasoned lineup Sunday to try to begin turning around the season.

Finally: David Dellucci snapped an 0-for-16 skid with a sixth-inning single. Dellucci was the designated hitter and batted sixth.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-4664

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 12, 2009

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