Kameron Loe is used to being involved in squeeze plays--and not just on the diamond.
The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks' new right-hander is well known for one his pets, a 2.13-meter, 77-kilogram Colombian red-tailed boa constrictor.
The snake, a female named Angel, is back in the States while Loe--who signed a two-year deal, with a team option after this season--tries to help his new club improve on 2008's last-place finish in the Pacific League.
"I miss my snake. I miss my dog, I miss my family and friends, too," Loe said after working five solid innings in a 1-1 preseason tie on Thursday at Yokohama Stadium against the BayStars, who finished last in the Central League a season ago.
"But this is my job and I enjoy it, and I'm enjoying this country very much."
The 27-year-old 2.01-meter Loe said some very reliable and reptile-loving friends back in Dallas are taking care of Angel, which he said needs little attention--just the feeding of about one rat per week.
Loe said he wants to work at roughly the same pace, getting a job in the Hawks' rotation that would have him on the hill once a week.
Loe allowed a run on two hits and three walks, while fanning two BayStars on Thursday, but had more gas in the tank.
"I was just a little bit tired, but I felt like I probably could have gone one more inning," he said.
He walked three in the first two innings, but set down 10 of the final 11--the only runner reaching on an error.
The former Texas Ranger allowed two stolen bases and said getting the ball to the plate faster with runners on is one of the things he has to improve on.
"I'm working on my slide step to cut down my time to the plate so the catcher has some time to throw runners out," said Loe, who figures Japanese hitters will challenge him to make plays with his glove.
"I'm going to have to field my position. Obviously, they pounded the ball into the ground today, and some of those are going to come to me.
"And eventually, guys are going to start laying down bunts on me, to test my legs, test my arm--so it's really a focus on small ball," said Loe, who admitted he has room to improve when it comes to slowing down the running game.
"I need to work on my pickoff move because I think these guys are going to run a lot."