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Lions' Brown finds life in Japan not a breeze

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Lions' Brown finds life in Japan not a breeze

by Jim Allen (Apr 16, 2010)

Despite his big home run on Opening Day, Dee Brown has had a tough time of it so far with the Saitama Seibu Lions.

Things were looking up on April 4, when he hit two home runs against the Fighters at Sapporo Dome. Two more hits had the 32-year-old seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

But Brown, who entered Wednesday's game against Rakuten with a .188 average, has learned enough to know that what he sees is not exactly what he's going to get.

His biggest struggle, he says, has been with pitch recognition and dealing with all the different arm angles one doesn't get back home.

"I was asked if I thought Japanese pitchers were tough," Brown said Wednesday at Seibu Dome. "They said, 'Do you think your swing could deal with Japanese pitchers?' I said, 'I'm not over here to THINK that I can. I'm over here to do it.'

"Eventually, I will get it. It's not like I have to change the [batting] technique. I only have to get familiar and stay off of certain pitches.

"I'm going to look really bad until I'm recognizing and I get really comfortable in there. There's only six teams in this league and interleague, so I'm going to get you."

He thought the moment had come for him to "rock and roll" when he followed his Sapporo blasts with a pair of doubles in his next game at Seibu Dome. The following day, however, he just missed two pitches like those he propelled into the seats at Sapporo Dome.

"I missed them, popped out to right field both times," he said. "I started thinking and all of a sudden the week just gradually got worse and worse and worse."

Brown, who spent his last two seasons in Triple-A, is making small adjustments to help him feel more comfortable but he believes greater familiarity with the pitchers will be the remedy.

"It's good now that I'm starting to see guys the second time around," he says. "That's why I pray everyday for these coaches to have patience. That's tough because everybody wants results.

"But I want to make sure my batting practices are good. They'll say, 'We're seeing it in practice. We're not seeing it in the game, but we know it's there because the batting practices are good.'

"When I'm doing really good, and I'm really locked in, I could care less about batting practice. As long as my tee work is good.

"The mentality over here is not like that. I've been told the practice is almost as important as the game."

Despite his impressive pre-game displays, the hits have yet to come in games.

"Last night was a perfect example. Against a righty, I felt good against him. In the third at-bat, I was jumping at his forkball instead of relaxing and waiting for the fastball. I outthought myself. I took the fastball for strikes and I swung at the forkball.

"I just want hits. I know everybody wants to see more [home runs]. I think if they take [a look at] my 14 seasons before this they'd say, 'Damn, we never would have signed him if we knew he hit like this in April.'"

In other news:

--World figure skating champion Mao Asada will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Seibu Dome on Saturday before the Lions' game at 2 p.m. against the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

--Orix Buffaloes third baseman Greg LaRocca suffered a broken right pinkie when he was hit by a pitch last Saturday, Kyodo News reported the team as saying Wednesday.

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