In Japan … finally


Now that we’re finally in Japan, it feels like everything’s slowing down a little bit. Wednesday was kind of crazy, and we lost pretty much all of Thursday flying over here, but now everything’s starting to feel a little more normal. Almost like a regular road trip, really, but I know it won’t feel like that once the games start. 

When I woke up Wednesday, I started doing some last-minute packing, and while I was packing my mother-in-law called and said she heard something about the Red Sox maybe boycotting their last Spring Training game and not going to Japan. So I turned the TV and checked it out a little, but I just kept on with my day like normal because I had to pitch in a Cactus League game in Mesa against the Cubs either way.

When I got over to our place, Phoenix Municipal Stadium, to get ready to go to Mesa, I got caught up on everything that was going on. That helped, because once I got caught up on stuff I hadn’t heard, I pretty much figured the trip was going to happen. There was never a time when I felt like it was on the brink of getting cancelled.

So I went over to Mesa to just focus on getting my work in, and it was probably the best outing I’ve had all spring. Mechanically I had a nice, smooth rhythm, and everything I had worked on in my previous outing, which was in a Minor League game, seemed to be paying off. So that’s a nice little confidence boost, to feel that good in my last start before coming here.

The trip itself basically started with the ride from Mesa pack to Phoenix Muni, where I got the rest of my stuff together. They told us our charter plane was going to be late, so me and my wife, LeeAndra, went upstairs to get a bit to eat and just hung out before the security line started.

They did the security screening in the parking lot behind the stadium, doing the wand thing before we got on the busses for the airport, and the line was pretty long and it was pretty hot outside while we were waiting, so I worked up a little sweat there. Then we had to sit on the bus for a while once we got to the airport and do a little more waiting around, but once we actually got onto the plane, the rest of it actually seemed to go by real quick.

My wife’s kind of a nervous flyer, I guess you could say, but the plane was super comfortable and she was fine. Our seats had little TVs that popped up from the side with movies and games and stuff, so I played some games on those for a little while, went upstairs and played some cards, ate and watched a couple of movies. That makes 12 hours go by pretty quick, believe it or not.

I can’t remember what the first movie was for some reason, but that’s the movie I saw the whole way through. The other one was that "Bee Movie," and I fell asleep at the end of it. But I only slept about 30 minutes or so, and that was great, because once we got to the hotel here, I sacked out real easy and got my seven, eight hours.

So now I think my body’s on the way to being adjusted to the time change, and that’s important for getting ready to pitch Tuesday. I didn’t want to sleep on the plane, and I don’t feel jet-lagged at all.

This morning when I woke up, we ordered breakfast, and I have to say it was the best seasonal fruit plate I’ve ever had. Not sure how interesting that is to anyone, but I figured I’d mention it. It was unbelievable.

I didn’t do much this morning before taking the bus to the workout at Tokyo Dome. I’d never seen the stadium before, but it’s about what I expected. Like I said in my last blog, the movie "Mr. Baseball" is kind of what I’m going off as far as expectations, and it’s been pretty close so far.


Stretching out the arm at the Tokyo Dome on Friday. (Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images)

The showers in the clubhouse are straight "Mr. Baseball." You have to sit down, the shower heads are so low. So you sit on a little stool. It’s like a little bath. The clubhouse, I’d say, is kinda like something you’d see in Double-A ball. It’s not the big leagues, but it’s not that bad.

I haven’t been out to the mound yet, but I’ve heard they had guys over here from the U.S. to make sure it’s up to big league standards, so I’m not worried about it. Now I’m just looking forward to our first exhibition game tomorrow. I heard they have swordfights on the field and all kinds of crazy stuff before the game, so that should be fun.

Oh, and I watched a little sumo wrestling this morning on TV. I’ve gotta go to see that live. We have a day off between the two exhibition games and the opener, so maybe I can go then.

I’ll try to check in with y’all again tomorrow after the game.




    Nice blog so far Joe. thanks for keeping us A’s fans posted.

    I’ve had a fair amount of excitement in my life, but I can’t image what it must be like for you to start the season opener, against the RedSox in Japan. That’s a couple of firsts for you, and I’m sure that’ll be quite an experience.

    I’m sure that you’ll do great.

    It’s a pretty cool way to start the season to be sure, but what will make it truly epic is if you can dominate the Sox. I want to see some of that vintage, fast-working, both sides of the plate controlling, curve ball for a strike dropping, Joe Blanton domination that I got used to seeing last year.

    Skip the sumo and study the video buddy.

    We’re all rooting for you man.

    I can’t wait.


    Hi Joe…

    Glad you’re enjoying your trip to Japan. I’m a Bay Area native but have lived in Tokyo for the past 12 years. Japan is a fascinating place, and I’ve loved nearly every minute of my time here.

    Gotta agree with you on the food at the New Otani. I meet clients there quite often, and the place never disappoints.

    There probably won’t be a whole lot of A’s fans in the stands on Opening Night, but I’ll be there, cheering loud for the Green and Gold.

    Gambatte! (Good Luck!) Let’s Go A’s!


    Hey Joe, Good luck on opening day!!! One question: you’ve named this place the Bluegrass Blog, and i’m wondering if you’re a bluegrass/Bill Monroe fan? Though i’m from the Bay Area, i’m a bit curious (my dad was a Kentucky Colonel).


    Hey Joe,

    All the American media will be focus on the Red Sox, thanks for your blog to even the coverage. Hope you and Rich Harden pitch great against the big bad Boston lineup. Can’t wait for next blog entry.


    -Edgar Martinez, A’S Fan


    Hey Joe,

    Sounds like a blast! Your really lucky to get this opportunity. I’m superstoked your opening, love watching your pitching!

    Ive never been to Japan so living vicariously through your blogs!

    Cheers and enjoy the rest of the trip! Stay away from the Fugu 🙂



    Hey Little Buddy. I know you and LeeAndra will have a great time. Remember we are all so excited for you and the guys. Hammer them hard buddy and let the other guy know that you certainly do have a good little friend playing the Bill Monroe stuff professionally. I can tell you all…he is a Bluegrasser.

    Your second Dad


    Hey Joe,
    Jeff Jennings from Morgantown… Enjoyed reading your blog….I went to china summer of 2006…That body clock thing is tough to conquer….Good luck this season!! Everyone in WILDCAT CAT country is rooting for you!!


    Hey Joe,

    Hope you’re enjoying Japan. I worked in Japan from 2006 to 2007 and my love for baseball got re-ignited there. I’m sure you’ll love the passion their fans give all game long.

    Go Twins and Dragons! (Sorry Joe 😉


    I could say that this is awesome articles, really great representation that may benifit viewers like me. I would love to subscribe to your site to receive updates. Thanks
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