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Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, March 24, 2000

R A I N B O W _ B A S E B A L L


Danny Kimura
wants to be a
hit with ’Bows

Whether he's playing at first base
or as a designated hitter, the 5-foot-9
junior just wants to help
UH get some wins

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By Al Chase


Danny Kimura has made solid contributions in his first season with the University of Hawaii baseball team after transferring from the University of Nebraska.

He is fourth among the regulars with a .339 batting average and leads the Rainbows with seven doubles, two triples and 29 runs batted in.

However strange it may sound, it was his hitting ability that prompted Hawaii head coach Les Murakami to switch Kimura from a starting job at third base to designated hitter/first baseman.

Kimura went through a rough period defensively at the hot corner and Murakami did not want that to affect Kimura's steady plate performance.

Patrick Scalabrini made a move from shortstop, where he was struggling, to his natural position at third base.


"I guess I was a little disappointed, not really the fact that Pat was playing there instead of me, more because I wasn't getting the job done and helping out the team the way I knew I could," Kimura said.

"I'm good friends with Patrick and he's been doing a great job so I'm supportive of him. As long as I can get into games somewhere and contribute, I have no problem where I play."

Kimura has been at first base when Jamie Aloy pitches the first game of each series. He was there for the third game of the Fresno State series when the Bulldogs started a left-hander. If not in the field, Kimura is the DH.

He feels the situation in Nebraska that caused him to return home is totally different from the decision made by Murakami.

"In the case of Nebraska, the coach said I'd play basically only against left-handers, but would still be playing third base," Kimura said.

"Here, they want me to concentrate more on hitting. I think it helps my hitting more than hurts if I'm on defense. It helps me stay in the game more. That's why I like playing first base."

There is another talent the 5-foot-9, 195-pounder can't wait to explore on the collegiate level. He also pitched for Iolani and has been taking his turn on the mound in recent scrimmages.

"He worked on pitching in the fall, but we knocked it off when he started playing third base," Murakami said. "Now that Scalabrini has settled in at third base and Danny is not throwing as much, we need to see if he can help. There hasn't been any time to use him because of league games, but we should in the tournament."

If Kimura is effective in a relief role, it will allow Murakami more options when outfielder Derek Honma returns from the injured list. Honma will probably knock a pitcher off the 25-man roster UH is limited to for Western Athletic Conference games.

"I fell pretty comfortable out there," Kimura said. "I'm kind of waiting for that first collegiate pitching experience. It's probably one of the most competitive positions. It's pretty much you and the batter. I like the intensity and the challenge."

Kimura's actions may not reveal his intensity on the field, but coaches and friends have told him they can tell when his intensity thermometer is rising.

"I like a challenge. I'm one of those guys who likes to go up there with two outs and men in scoring position where you can clutch out," Kimura said.

"It drives me. I think it makes me a better player. Like last week in Fresno when the crowd booed. I like that. It fires me up more and makes me want to do better."

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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