Angels DH Matsui a fan of female knuckleballer Yoshida
By Gideon Rubin Special to the Daily News
Posted: 06/07/2010 10:23:21 PM PDT
OAKLAND – Count the Angels’ Hideki Matsui among the hordes of Japanese baseball fans rooting for 18-year-old female knuckleball sensation Eri Yoshida.
“It’s amazing what she’s doing,” Matsui said through an interpreter about Yoshida, called the “Knuckle Princess” by Japanese media.
Last month, Yoshida became the first woman to play professionally in America in a decade when she pitched for the Chico Outlaws in the independent Golden Baseball League. She played in Japan last year and is the only woman ever to play professionally in two countries.
Matsui hasn’t seen Yoshida pitch, but said he knows of her through Japanese media reports. Chico will be in Fullerton on June 25-26, but the Outlaws have not announced whether she’ll travel with the team.
“It’s very courageous of her to play amongst a bunch of male athletes,” Matsui said.
Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield, who for years pitched against Matsui while he was with the rival New York Yankees, spent a day tutoring his protege in March at the team’s Ft. Myers, Fla., spring training facility.
“I think that speaks of his character to take a day off to spend time with her to instruct her about the knuckleball,” Matsui said.