MESA, ARIZONA – Live-wire infielder Munenori Kawasaki enjoyed his first day of spring training with the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday.
The 34-year-old recently joined the team on a minor league deal and had been previously been unable to train at the Cubs facility because the results of his physical had not arrived. But he appeared to be making up for lost time in batting practice and fielding drills.
“I’m relieved I finally get to meet everyone,” said Kawasaki, who is entering his fifth season abroad with his third big league organization. “I’m so happy to be able to put on a Cubs uniform.
“The atmosphere (in camp) with each team is different here and there. I think I am going to have a chance to learn something new.”
One of the things he hasn’t had to learn is how to entertain the American media. With Kawasaki’s lively interviews often going viral, a television crew wasted no time getting him on camera.
In addition to his entertainment value, Kawasaki has been a useful backup because of his ability to play different positions around the infield and reach base, but he played in just 23 games last season, his third with Toronto.
He is joined in the Cubs camp by Matt Murton, who is attempting to return to the majors after spending six seasons with the Hanshin Tigers.
Elsewhere, the Seattle Mariners’ Hisashi Iwakuma threw his second bullpen of the spring in Peoria, Arizona, trying out all of his pitches in a 44-pitch session.
“My arm action was about the same as it should be in a game,” a smiling Iwakuma told reporters at the Mariners’ camp.