Japan postgame interviews March 17
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with Koji Yamamoto.
Q. (Not in English.) I have a question, it was very unfortunate. First of all, could you please tell us the reason for losing? And I have two things I want to confirm with you. First thing, after the runner came out at no outs, were you not thinking about getting another pitcher or also the getting caught stealing at the 8th inning.
KOJI YAMAMOTO: The first reason about the reasoning, their pitcher really had powerful pitching, so it was really hard to seize the moment. In terms of Nohmi, we can only talk about it from after the fact, and so he's a great ‑‑ he's been pitching well, so I kept him.
In terms of the attempt to steal at the 8th inning, there was a sign that the double steal can be attempted. And Ibata's start was a little delayed and that was what happened. But players, all of them worked really hard, and on such a big stage of international games, this is going to be the benefit for their career as a baseball player in the future. This season and for the future.
Q. (Not in English.) Japan is over for this. How would you evaluate Ibata, who is a captain of the team?
KOJI YAMAMOTO: (Not in English.) As I said earlier, for this game, I think I already explained all the players did really well, including Shinnosuke. He was leading the team well and experienced players supported him and the younger players followed him. So since the second round we have a good unity. I feel very fortunate that I was able to work with great players.
Q. (Not in English.) We were anticipating the hard fight, but we came to the semifinals and we had two games. We were almost there, but we were not able to reach there. What do you think was missing for you to make a triple championship winning Classic?
KOJI YAMAMOTO: (Not in English.) The opponent was a great team today. Hitters were good, they did really aggressively, and especially the pitchers were really good. So it was really hard to find the opportunity or seize the opportunity, so in that sense, you either win or lose in any game, and today our opponent was better.
But as I said earlier, as a team, we were all domestic players from Nippon baseball. It's challenging to get adjusted before the season, so as a team, despite the challenges, they really had the unity to fight the game.
Q. I wondered what led you to decide to put on a double‑steal in the 8th inning with your Slugger up at‑bat.
KOJI YAMAMOTO: (Not in English.) The motion of the pitching was large. As you can see through the video, I could see it from the video. And if there's an opportunity, we were saying that the players should run. And Slugger Shinnoskue Abe was the hitter and moving forward to the next base is the right attempt. It failed, but I don't regret the attempt.
Q. Obviously, maybe the first at‑bat, he hit a ball to deep center, might have been a double elsewhere, but it ended up being an out. And then there was the double steal that you just explained. How much did the ballpark affect your decision‑making in this game, Abe hitting a home run potentially in that situation and you're in the lead, but instead you go for the double steal, playing small ball. How much did AT&T Park affect this game tonight?
KOJI YAMAMOTO: (Not in English.) I didn't really think so much about the difference of the ballpark.
Q. (Not in English.) In the beginning Maeda allowed the runs several times, and that was not like his usual pitching. Do you think they had tension?
KOJI YAMAMOTO: (Not in English.) Yes, the temperature or the wind was different, so the conditions, the environment was different. I think Maeda did great pitching. I don't think it's the reason for the loss. I think that the players did great. I just feel that way.
Q. You brought this team together, you guys have been together about since mid February, you had a lot of close games in the first round, had the Taiwan game in the second round, and now to fall just short of reaching the third consecutive final. What would you say the feeling is in the lock room right now? Did you say anything to the guys before you came in here?
KOJI YAMAMOTO: (Not in English.) I have said it several times, but the players really did the good conditioning of themselves and that's delivered us thus far. I really felt the warm support from the fans. In this case, our opponent was really superior, both in pitching and hitting, and so we were cornered, in a sense.
Q. (Not in English.) You said you were fortunate earlier being the manager of the National Japanese team and you have come thus far. As you look back on your baseball career, what kind of feelings do you have as a manager of the National team?
KOJI YAMAMOTO: (Not in English) of course I have aimed for three consecutive winning championships, and I had some expectation that we would be able to do that. But this is such a big international game, and it's been awhile since I did the big international game. So it's been six months since I was commissioned to this responsibility, and I did have pressure that I need to do this.
However, this was a great experience being as old as I am. I was able to really feel the challenge of the match and being able to face this kind of challenge, it was really exciting.
THE MODERATOR: Manager Yamamoto, thank you very much.