GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was teased Sunday morning that a recent change of plans has caused an international incident.
It was believed that Dodgers starting pitcher Kenta Maeda would also come to the plate during his scheduled outing Monday against the Seattle Mariners. That would put him up against Mariners starting pitcher, and fellow Japan native, Hisashi Iwakuma.
In advance of the matchup, Maeda even joked to the healthy contingent of media from Japan that he would respectfully ask Iwakuma to not throw his split-finger pitch during the at-bat.
Now, Roberts has altered the plan, saying the Dodgers will use a designated hitter Monday. Instead, Maeda participated in a simulated game on a back field Sunday, with fellow starters Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood, to work on situational hitting and bunt attempts.
One member of the Japanese media said there would be some legitimate “disappointment” that the Iwakuma-Maeda showdown would not take place. It was compared to the disappointment felt when a potential regular-season matchup between Iwakuma and the New York Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka fell apart when one of the teams made a last-minute adjustment to its rotation.
Maeda, who hit home runs on three consecutive pitches in batting practice Saturday, took it all in stride.
“It’s OK, but I was a little bit disappointed,” Maeda said to the members of the media from Japan. “But I don’t want to get injured.”
His injury concern actually is legitimate. Kershaw took a foul ball off his right foot during one bunt attempt in Sunday’s simulated game. It appeared to hurt Kershaw's pride more than anything else, although he did end his day at that point and got a ride back to the major league clubhouse in a golf cart.