<
>

Tour through Japan takes place Nov. 5-14

LOS ANGELES -- Akinori Otsuka and Kazuhisa Ishii expect to get a lot of attention in Japan when they play with a team of major
leaguers in an exhibition series against Japanese All-Stars starting next week.

Otuska, a reliever with the San Diego Padres, and Ishii, a starter with the Los Angeles Dodgers, will play with a team that includes World Series MVP Manny Ramirez and Boston Red Sox teammate
David Ortiz, pitchers Jason Marquis and Ray King of the NL champion St. Louis Cardinals and Montreal Expos outfielder Brad Wilkerson.

"In 1998, I was one of the players on the Japanese team that
played the All-Stars," Otsuka said before Saturday's workout at
Dodger Stadium. "And ever since that moment, I felt like the next
time I played in that tournament I wanted it to be on the American
major league team."

The eight-game trip from Nov. 5-14 goes through Fukuoka, Osaka,
Sapporo, Nagoya and Ishii's hometown of Tokyo.

"I'm really excited," Otsuka said through a translator.

Otsuka and will also be accompanied by Padres manager Bruce
Bochy and teammate and fellow pitcher Jake Peavy.

"This has got to be very exciting for him to be going back
there," Peavy said. "I'm looking forward to going along and
watching all the hoopla that surrounds him and Ishii over there. It
should be a neat experience."

Ishii also will have a couple of familiar faces with him on the
trip, including Dodgers second baseman Alex Cora and pitching coach
Jim Colborn -- who spent four seasons in Japan as a coach with the
Orix Blue Wave and five more as Pacific Rim scoring director for
the Seattle Mariners before guiding Ishii through his first three
big league seasons.

"These guys appreciate it in a different way than our players
because they already got to the pinnacle over there before them
came here," Colburn said. "It's like climbing Mount Everest -- and
then you get to try to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Of course, they'll
be the centers of attention. It's kind of like the prodigal sons
returning with their new weapons."

Ishii is 36-25 with the Dodgers and has a 4.30 career ERA, but
was left off the team's postseason roster after struggling down the
stretch.

"I'm excited to be going back to Japan," Ishii said through an
interpreter. "Hopefully, I can show the Japanese people what I've
learned after my three-year experience over here and what I'm able
to do."

Otsuka's first big league season as closer Trevor Hoffman's
setup man surpassed all the Padres' expectations. He was 7-2 with a
1.75 ERA and struck out 87 in 77 1-3 innings.

"To be honest, I don't think any of us knew he'd be this
good," Bochy said. "We didn't know a lot about him, except that
he threw strikes and had a lot of success over there. He was a
great find. I'd hate to think of there we would have been without
him."