Okajima not happy to be in Pawtucket

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Okajima not happy to be in Pawtucket

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

PAWTUCKET, R.I. Starting the season in Triple-A was not what left-hander Hideki Okajima had in mind when he re-signed as a free agent with the Red Sox in January. Had he known, would he have signed back with the Sox?

Probably not, he said Thursday night through an interpreter before the Pawtucket Red Sox' Opening Night game against the Rochester Red Wings at McCoy Stadium.

He pitched a scoreless inning in the PawSox' 2-1 win, recording a strikeout in what was the first minor-league appearance of his career. He had spent all of his first four seasons in North America in the major leagues with the Red Sox -- making the All-Star team as a rookie in 2007 -- and he admitted the demotion affects his pride.

But after going 4-4 with a 4.50 ERA last season, allowing righties to hit .340 and lefties .284, the move was not completely unexpected to most observers. Okajima still has minor-league options, so the team could send him down without the risk of losing him via waivers.

Its all up to the front office and manager Terry Francona, Okajima said. So its nothing that I can do. I dont take it as an insult.

He had offers from other teams, he said, and in hindsight maybe he would still be in the big leagues if he had taken one of those.

But at the end of the day my family wanted to be in Boston, he said. So thats why I made this decision and I accept that.

He compared the move to when he was traded just before the start of the 2006 season in Japan, which caught him by surprise.

Thats how I felt, he said. I wish they would have told me earlier this was going to happen because that would have allowed me to be prepared for things, prepare for the season, just get myself mentally prepared.

He said the Sox did not give him specific instructions for things to work on in Pawtucket.

Pretty much what he was told was that although he improved toward the end of last season and pitched well during the spring, they still wanted him to start the season in Triple-A and regain his consistency and just get a few more outings before he gets the call up, said the interpreter. So thats pretty much what hes going to be working on.

Dennys Reyes, the only left-hander in the Sox pen, has struggled greatly since the start of the season. In four games, he has recorded just 1 23 innings pitched, with a 16.20 ERA, giving up two hits, two walks, with one strikeout. Overall, he has thrown 39 pitches, only 17 for strikes. In two of his outings, he has not recorded an out.

In Wednesdays game against the Indians, he faced three batters, hitting the first two and walking the next before exiting. He threw 12 pitches, just one for a strike. His season-high for hit batters is four, in 2004 with Kansas City in 108 innings.

Okajima said he has paid no attention to dismal the start of the big-league teams season, or to Reyes performance.

No, I havent been watching the big-league games right now, he said. I dont want too much TV.

He said hes not surprised at the teams start.

Not really, he said. I think it shows the reality of where the team stands at this point. The same reality that Im starting down here, theyre struggling up there.

The team hasnt told him when or if he might be recalled, he said.

No, I just have to do what I have to do down here and well see what happens, he said.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Jones-Molina WBC spat is a clash of cultures . . . and that's great

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Jones-Molina WBC spat is a clash of cultures . . . and that's great

The Adam Jones-Yadier Molina verbal skirmish is as predictable as it is annoying.

Was every cultural nuance for the 16 World Baseball Classic teams explained in a booklet the players had to memorize before the tournament?

No? Then it’s amazing there weren’t more moments like this.

Jones, the Orioles outfielder, said Team USA's championship game win over Puerto Rico was motivated by Puerto Rico's choice to plan a post-tournament parade for the team before the final game.

As Jones was raised, parades in pro sports are for championship teams. Red Sox fans are likely aware of this.

As Jones was raised, discussing a parade before a title is secured suggests overconfidence. Rex Ryan fans are likely aware of this.

After an 8-0 win for the U.S., Jones revealed the parade was used as bulletin-board material.

"Before the game, we got a note that there was some championship shirts made -- we didn't make 'em -- and a flight [arranged],” Jones said. “That didn't sit well with us. And a parade -- it didn't sit well with us."

But apparently, Jones didn't know the full context of the parade. It was reportedly planned regardless of whether Puerto Rico won.

One Team USA teammate of Jones whom CSNNE spoke with didn't believe that, however.

"It was called a champions parade that got turned into a celebration parade once they lost," the player said. "I think they just don't like getting called out by Jones, but all Jones did was tell exactly what happened."

Jones’ comments weren’t received well.

Puerto Rico's going through a trying time, a recession, and the entire island rallied behind the team.

“Adam Jones . . . is talking about things he doesn't know about," Molina told ESPN’s Marly Rivera. "He really has to get informed because he shouldn't have said those comments, let alone in public and mocking the way [preparations] were made.”

No one should be upset Jones explained what he was thinking.

Jones actually asked MLB Network host Greg Amsinger, “Should I tell the truth?”

Yes. It’s better than lying.

Look at the reactions across the WBC: the bat flips, the raw emotion. Honesty conveyed via body language.

People in the U.S. are starting to accept and crave those reactions. The WBC helped promote a basic idea: let people be themselves.

Jones said what was on his mind. We can’t celebrate bat flips and then say Jones should keep his mouth shut.

But there's an unreasonable expectation being placed on Jones here.

He heard about a parade -- which is to say, a subject he wouldn't normally think twice about or investigate before a championship baseball game.

Plus, it gave him motivation.

Why is Jones, or anyone with Team USA, more responsible for gaining an advance understanding of Puerto Rico’s parade-planning conventions -- we're talking about parade planning! -- than Puerto Rico is responsible for keeping U.S. norms in mind when making and/or talking about those plans?

No one involved here was thinking about the other’s perception or expectation. It's impossible to always do so.

But that’s how these moments develop: what’s obvious to one party is outlandish to the other.

Now Molina, Puerto Rico's catcher, wants an apology.

"He has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people," Molina told ESPN. "Obviously, you wanted to win; he didn't know what this means to [our] people."

Jones can clear the air with an apology, but he doesn't owe one. And he definitely doesn't owe one after Molina took it a step further.

"I'm sending a message to [Jones], saying, 'Look at this, right now you're in spring training working out, and we're with our people, with our silver medals,' " Molina said. "You're in spring training and you're working . . . you have no idea how to celebrate your honors, you don't know what it means.”

Team USA had no parade. Manager Jim Leyland made clear how the U.S. was celebrating, by recognizing those serving the country.

The silver lining here is how much attention the WBC has drawn, and how much conversation it can drive. People care, a great sign for the sport -- and its potential to foster better understanding across cultures.

Internationally, the sport is on parade.

Wright extends scoreless streak to 9 1/3 innings in Red Sox' 10-7 win over Pirates

Wright extends scoreless streak to 9 1/3 innings in Red Sox' 10-7 win over Pirates

The angst surrounding the David Price- and (possibly) Drew Pomeranz-less Red Sox starting rotation may have eased a little -- or a lot -- on Thursday.

Steven Wright extended his string of scoreless spring-training innings to 9 1/3 by blanking the Pirates for 4 1/3 innings in his third spring-traing start, leading the Sox to a 10-7 victory over the Pirates at SkyBlue Park.

Red Sox-Pirates box score

Wright allowed two hits -- the only two hits he's allowed this spring -- with one walk and three strikeouts.

Several of his pitching brethren, notably Heath Hembree and Robbie Ross Jr., didn't fare nearly as well. (See box score above.) But the Sox -- using what may be their regular-season batting order for the first time -- bailed them out with a 16-hit attack, led by Dustin Pedroia (3-for-3, now hitting ,500 for the spring). Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and, yes, Pablo Sandoval each added two hits. Sandoval also drove in three runs and is now hitting .362.

Xander Bogaerts went 1-for-4 in his return to the Sox from the World Baseball Classic.