Lake Buena Vista, Fla. — The Maserati and suburban mansion were nice, but now Braves pitcher Kenshin Kawakami has something to really raise the comfort level.
A Japanese teammate.
The Braves signed free-agent reliever Takashi Saito in December, and now have two Japanese pitchers, each with his own interpreter. Four countrymen in the clubhouse.
“In terms of having more Japanese people to speak with, it does make me feel comfortable,” Kawakami said through his familiar interpreter, Daichi Takasue.
Kawakami spent the offseason in Japan and hired someone to make regular visits to his house in Gwinnett County – an estate formerly owned by rapper Bow Wow. The pitcher had the person check in to make sure the sleek sportscar he bought last year was safe.
“Yes, he was worried about his car,” Takasue said, smiling.
Kawakami worked in the offseason to improve his two-seam (sinking) fastball, and strengthened a pitching shoulder that became fatigued at times last season.
He went 7-12