05/29/2009 4:36 PM ET
Ken Takahashi: 40-year-old rookie
Mets reliever has made it from Hiroshima to Flushing
After pitching the last 14 years in Japan, I'm enjoying the experience of pitching here in North America for the first time. It's exciting. One thing I've learned quickly: The hitters here swing pretty hard, so I need to keep my pitches low and control all my pitches well.
Overall, though, the change from baseball in Japan to professional baseball here has not been as big a change as I thought it might be.
I haven't really been surprised too much, although I wasn't used to hearing all the booing that takes place.
Like in Japan, there are many players from the Dominican Republic playing here, and I have learned a little bit of Spanish.
I first signed a contract with Toronto, right before I turned 40, and I went to Spring Training with the Blue Jays. But I suffered a calf injury during my first game. My first pitching performance was not very good at all, and I had trouble concentrating due to nerves.
Now that I'm with the Mets, I'm pitching as a reliever. In Japan, I started and relieved. I'm probably a little more comfortable as a starting pitcher, but I can do both. Before joining the Mets, I pitched for the Triple-A team in Buffalo for six games.
With the Mets, I'm also the only Japanese player, but that's OK. Luckily, I always have my translator with me. Since I have been to the United States, I haven't had very much opportunity to speak with many other Japanese players.
When Mets left-hander Ken Takahashi made his debut on May 2, he became only the third player since World War II to debut at age 40 or older, joining Satchel Paige and Diomedes Olivo. Prior to this season, over a 14-year career all spent with Hiroshima in the Nippon Professional Baseball League, Takahashi went 66-87 with a 4.23 ERA in 433 games, including 160 starts. With New York, he has an 0-1 record and a 3.86 ERA over eight appearances.