There's not a lot of memorable stuff being written about the Sox nowadays, but I think certainly stands out.
But it was Okajima's refusal to talk to the media, non-related division, after a loss Sunday in Seattle in which he figured prominently that created considerable backlash. Numerous reporters covering the Red Sox faulted Okajima afterward for a lack of accountability in refusing to field questions after the game, which undoubtedly would have centered on how he mishandled two bunts in the course of allowing five straight hits in a 4-2 loss to the Mariners.
Some reporters accused Okajima of rarely making himself available after a bad outing, an accusation grounded in fact and one not disputed by Okajima. But after agreeing to an interview here Tuesday afternoon, which came in the aftermath of a meeting he had with Isao Hirooka, who has long worked with Hideki Matsui, Okajima provided a context in which his behavior is perhaps better understood.
He also described an environment in which he admitted to homesickness for his native land, and a language-driven loneliness in which he says he has only two real confidants, his wife and his interpreter.
"Especially in the bullpen," he said, "I'm kind of alone in there. There's time to think too much, especially inside the bullpen. It's hard to maintain a strong mentality, especially when you've been hit hard the previous day. There's too much time to think in the bullpen. It would be easier to maintain if there was someone who spoke the same language and you could talk to, but that's not the reality right now."
In Japan, Okajima said, reporters are not allowed in the clubhouse. Reporters make their requests to speak to a player through the team's publicist. "The PR person will say, 'Sorry, we have no comment today,"' Okajima said.
"From the players' standpoint, rather than try to put it in words in that moment, it would be better to get a fresh mind and talk about how you really felt in that situation, but not on that day."
..."I could not talk about the game," he said. "Mentally, I was down after the loss. I felt it was better to have some time in between to talk, not immediately."
His world can seem very small, he acknowledged, when he feels that he has only his wife and interpreter to talk to. It also speaks to his lack of anything but a professional relationship with fellow Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. "The stress would be better if there was a Japanese guy in the bullpen," he said. "There is a team rule that doesn't allow it. Some teams allow it. The reality is, Boston doesn't, and I can't change it."
Edited by SoxScout, 28 July 2010 - 04:07 AM.