If he feels comfortable about the status of family members in Japan, Brewers reliever Takashi Saito will start Sunday’s game against the Royals, manager Ron Roenicke said.
Saito played catch and did his running at Maryvale Baseball Park on Saturday morning, then returned to his Spring Training home to continue working the phones. He’s had a very difficult time getting information about his parents, brothers and other extended family members in Sendai, a city ravaged by Friday’s earthquake and the tsunami that followed. Saito is focused on getting his family out of Sendai and to safety.
His wife and three daughters avoided the worst of the disaster because they are south of Tokyo in Yokohama.
“He wants to get his parents and his brothers in a safe area, and once he does that, mentally, he’s going to feel better about coming back to the baseball part of it,” Roenicke said. “If everything goes right today, that he hears everybody is OK, he’s planning to pitch an inning [on Sunday].
“If there are still things he’s uncomfortable with and he’s not sure what’s going on, he probably won’t pitch. He’ll come in and work out again.”
Roenicke and Brewers GM Doug Melvin told Saito he’s free to leave the team and travel to Japan if necessary. If he opts to pitch Sunday, the Brewers told him to arrive at noon local time, pitch at 1 p.m. and then head back home to work the phone.
“He doesn’t need to be at the ballpark right now,” Roenicke said. “He needs to take care of his family, make sure he’s OK upstairs. He’s getting 2-3 hours a sleep a night, and that’s not good. We want to take care of him first, and his family. We’ll make sure he stays in shape enough, but he needs to take care of his family.”
If Saito does not pitch Sunday, right-hander Wily Peralta will start against the Royals.