New World: Dice-K adjusting swiftly to life in America

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Daisuke Matsuzaka is quickly
putting his off-the-field worries behind him. Now, the Japanese ace
is hungry for spring training with the Boston Red Sox.

"One of the things I was most worried about in coming over here
was obviously the food. But to my surprise, I found the vegetables
are great, the fish tastes great," the star pitcher from Japan
said Wednesday at a news conference.

"So far, so good. I've been able to lead a comfortable few
weeks here," Matsuzaka said through a translator.

The news conference was held at agent Scott Boras' offices, and
drew a throng of reporters, photographers -- and 18 TV cameras.

Boras said Matsuzaka, who has been working out in Southern
California, has impressed him in all facets.

"He has a great sense of humor. He certainly has great
recognition for the challenge that's ahead," Boras said. "Having
played baseball in foreign countries myself, his ability to
acclimate so quickly and to be so comfortable here is rather
remarkable. He has a very, very positive attitude.

"Watching Dice-K throw off the mound, maybe it's the California
air, but he's got special abilities. You can see it comes with a
very special attitude. There are very few major league pitchers who
have the skill Dice-K does."

Boras negotiated a six-year, $52 million deal for Matsuzaka. The
Red Sox had to pay $51.11 million to the Seibu Lions for winning
the bid to negotiate with him.

One adjustment Matsuzaka will face in the major leagues is being
part of a five-man rotation, rather than six as he was in Japan.

"As you know, joining a five-day rotation is a new experience
for me, and I'm just trying to get my overall strength up in
preparation for that. It's a big challenge," he said. "My
training has been comparable to past seasons."

His winter conditioning, he said, consists of weight work,
pitching some daily and running.

"I have a purposeful [training] menu every day," he said. "I
negotiate with my body, see how I feel, and decide what to do that

Matsuzaka said he was excited about going to spring training --
Red Sox pitchers and catchers report Feb. 16 in Fort Myers, Fla. --
and meeting his new Boston teammates. He has done some homework.

"I bought major league magazines when I was back in Japan and
memorized a lot of the names and faces of Red Sox players," he

He enjoyed visiting Boston when he went there to sign his
contract in December.

"I had the chance to go by and look at the house where I'm
going to be living, also had the chance to visit a museum, and as I
walked around town, a lot of people said hello to me in a sort of
very respectful and cheery manner," he said.

"I was very happy to experience that."

Since there are many Japanese players in the majors now, he
intends to use some of them as a resource.

"There obviously many things that I don't know over here, and I
definitely think having the opportunity to speak with those people
with be a definite positive for me," Matsuzaka said.