おすすめ２ちゃんねる 絶賛開発中。。。by FOX ★ このスレを見ている人はこんなスレも見ています。(ver 0.20)
LOS ANGELES ？ When he arrived in Vero Beach, Fla., for his first American spring training, red glove aglow in an entirely blue world, Takashi Saito allowed himself the slightest ambition.
He stood among the other minor-league invitees only 14 months ago. At 36, he had left behind a family in Japan, and a career of occasional prominence, to follow a curiosity born nearly a decade before.
"When I first started," he said Thursday night through a translator, "I had one goal. And that was to step on a major-league mound one time."
In the same spring, it was not unusual for him to throw to a minor-leaguer who'd only three years before become a catcher, himself having left behind the comforts of familiarity ？ third base ？ for a blind path to the major leagues.
Russell Martin prepared for what he supposed would be at least another season in the minors. Saito, 13 years older, was all but anonymous, lost in a bullpen of Eric Gagne, Danys Baez and Yhency Brazoban and in an organization of younger, flashier options.
A year later, they are the swing men for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Martin behind the plate, Saito at the back end of the bullpen. Surrounded mostly by veterans, holding rigorous positions, they turn the second-year adjustments slowly in their heads, all from careers apart, from 60 feet, 6 inches apart, three outs at a time.
"The positions they play are critical," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "And they both were put in situations last year that were difficult."
Saito was their fourth choice for the ninth inning, and then had merely to become the first regular and reliable closer since Gagne, one of the most popular figures in team history and one of the most effective closers in baseball history.
Martin was their second choice at catcher, and then caught 117 games, all after an early-May call-up, all after a mere 74 Triple-A at-bats.
"Those are not easy tasks," Colletti said. "I admire how they did it."
Saito had 24 saves and blew two. In his second season, he has six saves and an 0.93 ERA.
Martin hit .282 and became a dynamic, sturdy defensive catcher and game-caller. In his second season, he is batting .338 with 15 RBI from the sixth place in the order, just behind Luis Gonzalez.
Among Colletti's preference for veteran poise and reliability, they have been just that. Saito's dream of one big-league appearance has become 81. Martin's willingness to become a catcher could make him an All-Star.
"What I had thought in my mind and what actually happened, I'd have never thought of it," Saito said. "You know, in last year's situation, everything was unknown and I didn't really have time to step back and reflect. Everything happened so quickly. From the start this year, they wanted me to close, so I had a lot more time to think about my role on the team. From my end, I have to be able ？ with the rest of the staff ？ to still get hitters out."
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