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Martin’s advice doesn’t get lost in translation

Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO -- Reflecting on his major league debut the previous evening, Hiroki Kuroda said Saturday that the incident that upset him most might have produced his best memory.

Upon giving up a home run to Brian Giles -- the only run San Diego scored against him in seven innings during the Dodgers’ 7-1 victory -- an upset Kuroda received a visit on the mound from catcher Russell Martin.

Looking down at a piece of paper he’d pulled from his back pocket, Martin said something to Kuroda in unintelligible Japanese. Kuroda initially didn’t understand what Martin had said, but as Martin walked back toward the plate, he realized he had been told “ochitsuite,” or “calm down.”

“It made me really happy,” Kuroda said. “I wanted to laugh, but we were in the middle of the game. I had to hold it in.”

Martin said he had asked translator Kenji Nimura to write down the word for him earlier that day.

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In addition to collecting autographs from the game’s starters and Manager Joe Torre on the game ball, Kuroda received a crash course in bunting from pitching coach Rick Honeycutt on Saturday, as Torre was mortified to see the way he held the bat when trying move over a runner in the seventh inning.

“He had a choke hold on that son of a gun,” Torre said of the way Kuroda left his pitching hand exposed on the barrel of the bat.

Kuroda’s method is standard in Japan, where players are taught to keep their eyes on the same plane as their bats. Japanese players believe they can see the ball better this way, allowing them to bunt more precisely and avoid being hit. Kuroda said in his 11 years playing in Japan, he was never hit in his hands by the ball while attempting a bunt.

Torre said Kuroda would practice bunting with special instructor Maury Wills when the team returns to Los Angeles. Kuroda worked out with Wills this spring, but Torre said he never heard any complaints about his technique.

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Larry Bowa will return to coaching third base for the Dodgers today, and umpire crew chief Tim Tschida said he wouldn’t be looking at him any more closely than he would at other coaches to see whether Bowa is complying with the new rule that forbids base coaches to cross the lines of their designated boxes toward home plate or the field until batted balls pass them.

Bowa’s animated protest of the rule’s enforcement Tuesday resulted in an ejection, three-game suspension and fine. Tschida said he hadn’t received any special instructions from the commissioner’s office to monitor Bowa.

Tschida said he hasn’t had to enforce the rule yet. Then again, he hasn’t looked very carefully.

“It’s not something you look for,” Tschida said. “It’s something you react to.”

Asked if he agreed with the rule, Tschida replied, “No comment.”

Jim Joyce will be the third base umpire today.

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Delwyn Young received a golf ball-sized lump over his right eye when he was hit by a Martin line drive during batting practice. Young never lost consciousness, but felt nauseous during the game and was taken to a hospital for a CT scan. The scan was negative. . . . Matt Kemp, who is hitting .133, was benched for a game. Torre said Kemp has been impatient at the plate and that facing Jake Peavy on Saturday probably wouldn’t be the best remedy. . . . Because he pitched two innings in relief Friday night, Chad Billingsley’s next scheduled start has been pushed back a day to Tuesday in Arizona. Esteban Loaiza will start Monday against the Diamondbacks.

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com


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