Former Tigers catcher and current sports analyst Akihiro Yano caught up with Korean closer Seung-hwan Oh, winner of last year’s Most Saves title.
Yano: So this is your second year in Japan. Is camp going well for you?
Oh: Compared with last year, much better. I’m in better shape and I’m able to approach practice in a better frame of mind.
Yano: You’ve fit in well with your teammates, too, it seems?
Oh: Yeah, my teammates are really looking out for me.
Yano: That’s because you’re such a good guy! And on the field you met everyone’s expectations with that title (most saves, with 39). Speaking of which, your first year seemed to go extremely well, but what did you think of your performance?
Oh: To me, the title means very little. I’m looking to reduce the number of saves I blow this year*. I wasted too many chances last year.
Yano: We can see how serious you are about that in your workouts. What are you doing differently this year?
Oh: Compared to last year I’m doing a lot more weight lifting. I want to put on more muscle. I lost too much last year.
Yano: For baseball? Not to punch anyone out, right?
Oh: Hahaha, last year was my first in Japan, and I think nerves and worrying about everyone around me caused me to drop too much weight.
Yano: OK, we know about Seung-hwan the pitcher – his game, his pitching style, and so on. How about off the field… have you seen anything moving on TV, in movies or anything?
Oh: I’ve kind of gotten hooked on Korean dramas recently. I download them and watch them. It’s a story of a businessman working for a regular company. All I’ve done is play baseball so for me it’s interesting to watch stories about the lives of “regular business people.”
Yano: It’s a hard life! It’s what I do now. By the way, it seems like you’re starting to understand more and more Japanese.
Oh: (Last year) I didn’t study at all but this year I would like to. When I have time I think I’ll hire a private (Japanese language) tutor and get lessons.
Yano: A girlfriend?
Oh: Hahaha, no.
Yano: Not that you have many, but what do you do when you get a day off?
Oh: I love going out and finding good restaurants to eat at.
Yano: Japanese restaurants?
Oh: I like Japanese food, like sushi. There’s nothing I won’t eat.
Yano: By the way, what is your favorite Korean food?
Oh: That would be my mom’s home cooking.
Yano: Not your girlfriend’s?
Oh: We’re all part of the same team.
Yano: Fukuhara is already saying his back hurts…
Oh: I believe it (laughs).
* Seung-hwan Oh had six blown saves last season. Including three walk-off losses he had 4 defeats on the season, and twice left the mound after giving up the tying run.