Takashi Saito...An Arm Boston Needs
This season, Takashi Saito, who came to the Red Sox from the Dodgers, will be an important part of the setup role in the bullpen, joining Ramon Ramirez, Hideki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen and Justin Masterson. They will take care of the seventh and eighth innings until Jonathon Papelbon comes in to nail down a victory. His elbow lacks much of it's structure, but at the age of 39, he decided to forgo an operation that would have sidelined him for a year. Believe it or not, he'll be wearing number 24, Manny's number. He actually called Ramirez to ask for his permission, like it was needed. He said this. All quotes are from the Boston Globe, with my thanks...
"Manny said, 'No problem,' " said Saito through interpreter Masa Hoshino. "He said 24 and 99 are both very lucky numbers and to take one of them. I am very appreciative of the Red Sox for allowing me to wear the number."
Takashi will be in an unfamiliar role...that of a set-up man, not a closer. He spoke of his brilliant 2007 season with the Dodgers, a year he collected 39 saves and was an All Star...
"Just before the playoffs, and even after we clinched, I came in to close a few games," he said. "I think there were some difficulties in communication, but I had prepared to be a closer but I'd be brought into games and situations where it was 10-0 and I wouldn't perform really well. At the time, I don't know if I felt disappointed . . . but I moved beyond that, and if the team had advanced to the World Series I would have been ready to come back in. Of course I understand the situations that I come in will be different and I know I will have to adjust to it mentally and physically, but right now is the time to start making those adjustments," he said. "It's an area where I can't spare any effort, giving my all to get prepared for my new role so that I can contribute to the Red Sox"Every day is just a dream for me," he said. "Just looking around here and seeing my teammates. Amazing pitchers like Papelbon and a list too numerous to mention. So I'm very happy to be here. Very excited. But at the same time I can't just be happy to be here. Every day I ask myself, 'How can I perform better and how can I contribute better to the team?'"
What a great attitude! Takashi, if your elbow holds up, you'll be just fine, better than fine, in fact. By the way, Saito's career numbers include holding batters to a .182 average with only 52 walks (!!) in 187 2/3 innings. WOW! The Sox are stocked with five highly regarded relievers who will serve as the sturdier than ever "bridge" to ace closer Jonathon Papelbon. This might be, if the injuries stay away, one of the best bullpens the Red Sox have had in a long time. If they can score enough runs with the six starters they have, 2009 will be sweet, very sweet, and we all can use a bit of sweetness.
It's another Monday...it seems like they come along every single week. Well, I guess they do. I hope yours is a great one and remember, only two more days until the first Boston spring training game will be televised on NESN and NESN HD. You can click on this post's title for more Red Sox news and views. As always, BE WELL. See ya.