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03/21/08 6:30 AM ET

Buchholz set to start things in Japan

Young righty gets the nod for Red Sox against Hanshin Tigers

TOKYO -- Clay Buchholz has already thrown a no-hitter. He's already earned a reputation as one of the top young pitching prospects in Major League Baseball. But one thing he's never done is pitch in Japan.

Well, Buchholz had never even been to Japan until arriving on the Red Sox's team charter in the wee hours of Friday morning (Tokyo time). And now that he's here and soaked up the culture for a little bit, he's ready to pitch.

Buchholz will be first out of the gate when the Sox play the Hanshin Tigers in an exhibition game that will start on Friday night at 11:05 p.m. ET, but noon on Saturday local time under the roof of Tokyo Dome.

The game can be seen live on MLB.TV.

As of a Friday afternoon workout, Buchholz had not seen a scouting report. He's willing to just wing it.

"It's a little different," Buchholz said. "I'm not really sure how they go about their game or anything. I've seen, of course, Ichiro and Matsui and everybody. I've seen a little bit of how they play and how they go about their business. Other than that, I'm standing on one leg right now."

But Buchholz was hardly complaining either.

"This was a trip I wanted to make," Buchholz said. "The first part of that goal is under way. I want to throw well and make another good impression on this team."

As for his impressions of Tokyo?

"It was all different, just as far as seeing how many stores are cramped into one space and seeing how tiny the back roads are, that was pretty much it for now," said Buchholz. "I think tomorrow, a couple of guys, we're going to go sightseeing a little more, go take some pictures. I'm looking forward to that and looking forward to tomorrow's game."

For the Boston Red Sox, a team with a long and storied history, it will be their first game in Japan.

"We view the Japanese people as kindred spirits because we in Boston are so baseball centric that the emergence of Japanese players and the emergence of interest from Japan has in some ways made our two areas of the world as I call it, kindred spirits," said Sox owner John W. Henry. "Certainly the Japanese fans that we saw at Fenway during the season were wearing their colors, the Red Sox colors and there's no doubt about it -- the Japanese players have had a tremendous impact."

With 30 players on board for the trip, Francona will try to get everyone enough work to stay sharp in the exhibition games.

For Buchholz, it figures to be an adrenaline-filled start.

"I expect it to be pretty crazy," Buchholz said. "I've heard stories about games being played here and how loud it gets. I'm looking forward to that also."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.