DENVER -- Hideo Nomo might be a Japanese pitching icon, but for Kenta Maeda, that no-hitter Nomo constructed at Coors Field in 1996 barely registers.
“I didn’t watch the game or I wasn’t aware of the game either because I didn’t play baseball at that time,” Maeda said Friday through an interpreter.
So what was Maeda into at the age of 8?
“I was playing soccer,” he said.
The Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander might not have known about Nomo’s no-hitter in the Colorado Rockies’ offense-friendly ballpark, but he is obviously aware that it happened, and he will get a chance to register his own success in Denver when he takes the mound Saturday night.
Maeda (2-0, 0.47 ERA) is scheduled to make his fourth start in a Dodgers uniform. He will pitch opposite the Rockies’ Tyler Chatwood (2-1, 2.79).
Coors Field is known to give hurlers nightmares, but Maeda won’t fret. Nomo’s outing nearly 20 years ago is testament to the fact that a pitcher can throw well here. And Maeda already has received a little advice from his teammates.
“I was told that it is very similar to Arizona and the balls fly a lot more than the usual fields, but what I am planning to do is to pitch the way that I do and just locate pitches,” Maeda said.
In other words, Maeda can’t make any adjustments until he knows what needs to be adjusted. Besides, he didn’t feel that the desert air in spring training affected him much.
“I was able to make adjustments and I pitched well,” said Maeda, who had a 2.35 ERA in six Cactus League starts this spring. “To be honest, it didn’t feel too different from pitching in other fields.”
Even at nearly a mile high above sea level for the past 24 hours, Maeda has not been bothered by the altitude ... yet.
“It’s hard to tell just by walking,” he said.