SHANKS: How is spring training different here than in Japan?
KAWAKAMI: Spring training here is much shorter than in Japan. That's pretty much the big difference right there.
SHANKS: You've always been the man in your rotation in Japan. What's it like now to be one of the guys with the Braves?
KAWAKAMI: The major leagues is a place where all the best players come to, so I do have that in mind. So I just need to challenge myself and play the best game I can.
SHANKS: How do you think about your other starting pitchers in the rotation?
KAWAKAMI: Not just the starters, but the whole team, the whole organization has been great to me. I just want to respond to that sympathy I've been getting.
SHANKS: How good can this rotation be?
KAWAKAMI: I know I have to challenge myself. I feel this rotation can be close to the days with Maddux and Smoltz and Glavine.
SHANKS: The fans do not know what to expect since you've only been available to them on youtube. What do you want the fans to know about you as a pitcher?
KAWAKAMI: I don't have much velocity like pitchers here. My pitching style is having to balance myself well and having to pitch with my heart.
SHANKS: Has any of this whole process made you nervous?
KAWAKAMI: I feel like the organization and the fans have been great. I just want to respond to that.
SHANKS: So the fans have made you feel welcome?
KAWAKAMI: The fans have been really polite.
SHANKS: What about that first start in Atlanta? Will you be nervous?
KAWAKAMI: To be honest, I'll probably be nervous.
SHANKS: Have your teammates played any practical jokes on you yet?
KAWAKAMI: They haven't really been ragging me yet. Not yet. I've been to dinner with a few of them and they've been great.
SHANKS: Do you have to make any pitching adjustments to pitch here?
KAWAKAMI: It is a first time thing coming to the majors, so I will have to experiment a bit. My mechanics are important, but it's also important to learn the batters.
SHANKS: All the fans want to compare you to someone. Who should that be?
KAWAKAMI: There's nothing really I can say about that. I haven't really put up any stats yet, so I'm just going to try my best.
Bill Shanks hosts The Bill Shanks Show on
WFSM Fox Sports 1670 in Macon, Georgia and The Braves Show Talk Show. Shanks writes a weekly baseball column for The Macon Telegraph and is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team. You can email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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