Okajima perseveres on a difficult day

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Hideki Okajima pitched an inning for the Red Sox this afternoon, allowing a single and walk before working out of trouble. Given the situation in Japan — a second earthquake struck near Nagano today — it had to be difficult to take the mound.

“It was definitely tough,” Okajima said via interpreter Jeff Cutler. “It’s not just me who is struggling with this. The people in Japan are struggling even more and it’s tougher over there. I had to fight through it today. Hopefully the people in Japan can overcome this tragedy and things will work out.”

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Okajima was interviewed by a group of reporters from Japan and it was clear that the conversation turned quickly from baseball.

The Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, a team in the Japanese Pacific League, play in a stadium in the Miyagi Prefecture, an area greatly affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Former big leaguers Kaz Matsui and Akinori Iwamura are on that team along with one-time Yankees pitcher Darrell Rasner.

Those players are said to be safe. But news is difficult to come by.

“Everybody is trying to call to Japan,” Okajima said. “We all have friends and family. That’s is the focus.”

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