Friendly Mr. Rogers Adjusting to Japan Just Fine – Enjoyed Dinner Alone in Tokyo
He embarked on his first road trip in Japan on July 20th, hopping on a bullet train to Tokyo. And then this happened soon after the team arrived at its accommodations. Thinking it would be cruel to leave the new guy on his own for dinner in a strange country, a team representative invited Rogers to join him. But Rogers shook his head.
“You’re probably pretty tired. Don’t worry about me tonight – just enjoy being by yourself.”
And as he said that, he left the team hotel. Thinking it would be easy to get out and enjoy a meal just like he would in his home country, despite him being in Tokyo for the first time. Turns out he went to TGIFriday’s by himself and enjoyed a good meal.
Then the next night (21st) against the Yakult Swallows (at Jingu Stadium) he exploded for two home runs in a row (including his first in Japan) and had three hits and 5 RBIs. In the hero interview, he introduced himself as “Jason Rogers, a.k.a. Panda.” Indeed, a panda with a great big heart and a whole lot of power.
As reported in an article the other day, Rogers had nothing but praise for Yamato‘s defense. His sincerity came through when he made the comments after seeing Yamato show incredible technique and impeccable throws time and again: “His defense is incredible… his release is fast, his throws are on target. That’s major-league level defense.”
He has shown respect towards Japanese baseball and Hanshin as a team, which has helped him to fit in quickly.
Rogers has shown up and played the role of savior at a time when the team desperately needed someone to step up and replace injured free agent pick-up Yoshio Itoi‘s bat in the lineup. His power hitting has also bolstered a somewhat impoverished Tiger lineup whose top home run hitter, Masahiro Nakatani, has 11. The Panda’s combination of strength and kindness have endeared himself to fans and teammates alike.