Thursday, April 8, 1999
Masaoka enjoyingBy Al Chase
role with Dodgers
The butterflies were there when Onan Masaoka warmed up in the bullpen before his major league debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers Monday.
His emotions turned to excitement when he entered the game in the eighth inning with the Dodgers trailing the Arizona Diamondbacks, 6-2. His job was to hold the fort.
Masaoka, a 6-foot, 188-pound left-hander from Hilo, used 21 pitches to hold Arizona hitless and scoreless in that inning despite walking two batters.
"There were some pitches I thought I needed to throw. I kind of set up guys once I get out there and see how the batters react," Masaoka said. "Todd Hundley helped me a lot because he's a smart catcher. That day I had a good break on my curveball."
Relieving is a relatively new role for the Waiakea High School graduate. He switched from being a starter the last month of the 1998 season while playing for the San Antonio Missions in the Class AA Texas League.
"I haven't been relieving long, but I like it," he said. "It's a short stint, two innings max and I can let everything go."
Told Sunday night after the Dodgers last exhibition game that he had made the big club, Masaoka said his debut was more special because his parents, Milton and Elizabeth Masaoka, were there.
Masaoka is the 23rd player with Hawaii ties to play in the majors.
"I was happy. It was what I've been working for all my life, every since I started playing baseball," Masaoka said.