Japanese pitcher takes L.A. by storm

The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO A dozen camera shutters clicked as Hideo Nomo warmed up in the bullpen. His presence in the Dodgers' locker room caused such a commotion that manager Tommy Lasorda ordered all photographers out.

Known as ''The Tornado'' because of his unorthodox pitching motion, Nomo has created a whirlwind of excitement as he prepares for his historic major-league debut with Los Angeles today.

The San Francisco Giants, who will be the opponent when Nomo becomes the first Japanese native to pitch in the big leagues in three decades, said yesterday they've issued about 100 extra press credentials for the game.

The game will be broadcast live on Japanese radio and TV at 4:30 a.m. tomorrow.

''I'm not nervous at all. Since it's my first time, I'll throw as hard as I can,'' Nomo said through an interpreter. ''I know that there is (Barry) Bonds and (Matt) Williams, but I feel just the same.''

Nomo, 26, who compiled a 78-46 record in five years with the Kintetsu Buffaloes of the Japanese Pacific League, has been surrounded by cameras since he signed with the Dodgers in February.

The native of Kobe, who was an outfielder when he began playing baseball at the age of 11 and didn't become a pitcher until his sophomore year in high school, was an all-star in each of his five seasons with the Buffaloes.

The right-hander shares the Japanese record with 17 strikeouts in a game, and reached 1,000 strikeouts faster than any pitcher in Japanese history.

His windup, in which he pivots and turns his back momentarily to the plate, is reminiscent of Luis Tiant. His fastball travels at better than 90 mph, and Dodger catcher Mike Piazza says Nomo's forkball is among the best he's ever seen.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Nomo, who first began dreaming of playing in the United States after seeing a touring group of major-league all-stars in Japan, said in an interview during spring training when he went 2-0 with an 0.82 ERA that he wants to pitch like Roger Clemens.

''I want to play the game against power hitters. Power against power. That's what I want to try on the mound in a big-league game,'' he said. ''I came here because I like the way of pitching of Roger Clemens.''

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