Koji Uehara stood still and met with the Baltimore beat crew for the first time at Spring Training Saturday, holding court outside the home clubhouse at Fort Lauderdale Stadium with translator Jiwon Bang. Uehara, who had a wrap on his right shoulder, has made a habit of holding his daily briefing with the Japanese media as he walks to the parking lot.
Uehara has said that he expects the American press coverage to be a little less strenuous that it has been in his homeland, and he repeated that assertion on Saturday. The right-hander has a chart in his locker with mug shots and last names so he can get to know his teammates better, a new challenge after spending his whole career with the Yomiuri Giants.
At one point, Uehara even moved beyond the typical stock Spring Training interview to give a glimpse at his sense of humor. The veteran relayed that he has a deal with Jamie Walker to teach one word a day to each other in their respective languages — English and Japanese.
When one reporter expressed concern that Walker might be teaching him the wrong words — curses and invective alike — Uehara chuckled and agreed.
“Only good words,” he said via Bang. “I’ll be careful, but I need to learn [the bad words] too.”