LADY AT THE BAT: Who In The World Is Akinori Iwamura?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Who In The World Is Akinori Iwamura?

Last winter, when the Red Sox were posting their record bid for Dice-K, and the Yankees were (I hope, not) countering with their bid for Igawa, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays were posting a $4.55 million bid for someone named Akinori Iwamura. News of the posting brought a collective What? from the baseball world. What were the Devil Rays doing?

Well we're one week into the 2007 season and we're starting to see what the Devil Rays were doing. Iwamura, a third baseman from Uwajima, Ehime, Japan, had a spectacular first week in the Majors, batting over .500, with a home run and making several sparkling defensive plays. I first saw Iwamura on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, and was struck by how much he looked like Ichiro at the plate, swinging the bat just like Mariner's All-Star. After Andy Pettitte's less-than-impressive first start of the season, he paid tribute to Iwamura during a postgame interview, referring to him as "Aki." I was immediately embarrassed for Pettitte, who has a penchant for butchering the names of foreign-born players. (He called El Duque, "El Dukey.") But then, last night on Baseball Tonight, Iwamura was constantly referred to as Aki during updates and highlights of the Devil Rays-Rangers game. So, Aki, it is.

I've always been sort of enamoured of Asian players. I love their work ethic and and the quiet way most of them go about their business. I'm not sure just how quiet Aki is, but I am happily adding him to my growing list of favorite Asian players.

The Lady

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