Now Reports

My Momochi – Nick Martinez, Pitcher for Softbank Hawks

The “Momochi Now” series is back with monthly interviews with people who live, work, or are otherwise involved with Momochi. Through their stories, we will bring you closer to Momochi now!

Momochi Now!
Presented by SEAHAWK GALLERIA

 

This month we spoke with a newcomer to Fukuoka and Momochi, Nick Martinez. He might be new in town, but he’s already making friends and emerging as a star pitcher for the Softbank Hawks. Originally from Miami, Florida, Nick pitched for the Texas Rangers in MLB before joining the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in 2018, and then this January, he signed with the Hawks. We spoke to him about his new life in Momochi and as a member of Hawks.

Nick Szasz
Are you ready to go?

Nick Martinez
Yeah, I’m ready to rock and roll!

Nick Szasz
Cool. Well, first off, a big congratulations on getting the May MVP Award.

Nick Martinez
Yeah, thanks.

Nick Szasz
You must be excited about that.

Nick Martinez
It’s my first time winning the award in Japan. It’s exciting, you know, kudos to receive that recognition for a lot of hard work. It’s something I couldn’t have done without my teammates. But I’m the one accepting the award. (laughs)

Nick Szasz
I saw in another interview that you were quick to thank your catcher, Kai.

Nick Martinez
Yeah, I think, you know, the catcher-pitch relationship is very important, especially to me, and he’s done a great job and is doing his best to keep us on the same page.

Nick Szasz
So, you’re off to a great start in Fukuoka. How’s life here?

Nick Martinez
It’s cool. You know, I played for the Fighters before. So it’s the complete opposite in terms of weather. I experienced the cold, and although I liked it, I’m from Miami, so the weather here agrees with me more, but it was cool to experience the polar opposite of Miami. But I’m happy to be here back in warm weather.

Nick Szasz
The pandemic has been tough on everyone, but from a pitcher’s perspective, are there any advantages to pitching in a quiet stadium?

Nick Martinez
I think it can help pitchers, but I like to feed off the energy of the crowd. You know, if I’m away, I think hearing the crowd rooting against me or trying to rally the troops against me, I feel it forces me to concentrate more, and it enhances my focus. And then on the home side, I feel like it’s putting pressure on our hitters. So I think I react well to a full stadium; I’ve always liked that sort of pressure from the crowd. With an empty stadium, finding that adrenaline or the motivation to stay locked in, I had some trouble last year in the beginning. But when the season started, I found ways to pump myself up either before the game or during the game with or without crowds. But I prefer with the fans.

Nick Szasz
Well, hopefully, after the 20th of this month, things will open up, and I look forward to catching a game with you at the Dome. What’s it like pitching against your old team, the Fighters?

Nick Martinez
I like pitching against friends; they know my strengths, my weaknesses as a pitcher. And so it almost becomes a game within the game playing against them and having to get creative with some of the guys. I think we’re facing them here pretty soon again.

Nick Szasz
Every team has a character. How would you describe the Softbank Hawks?

Nick Martinez
There’s a word that I’ve been describing this team, and that’s confidence. There’s a sense of confidence that everyone (on the team) can accomplish or use their strengths to help the team win. And that confidence makes our games more enjoyable and makes everyone more relaxed. And it rubs off on everyone, and so it’s a domino effect, and it’s a big reason why the team has won for so many years.

Nick Szasz
You mentioned Kai and your good relationship with him. Who are your other buddies on the team?

Nick Martinez
Obviously, the foreigners, we all hang out, and Keizo Kawashima, he’s been really cool to hang out with.

Nick Szasz
What about Stewart Carter? He’s from Florida, too, right?

Nick Martinez
Yeah. Yeah. He’s from the Orlando area.

Nick Szasz
So you didn’t know each other from back there?

Nick Martinez
No, he’s a youngster. He’s a good kid, man. Very brave to go against the current as he has to reach the major leagues and build his career. Very interesting to see how that plays out.

Nick Szasz
Do you have any favorite Japanese expressions?

Nick Martinez
I say ‘sugoi” a lot. Yeah, when I’m amazed. For example, the Japanese swing is very late. And sometimes, I’ll throw a very good pitch that might have some late movement. And just when I think I may have gotten him to swing and miss there, but they hang on just a little bit and foul it off. I’m constantly amazed at how they do that. I think, back in the States, the style of play is a little more aggressive. And so they commit earlier to a pitch, and you can see more swings and misses. And here, just when you think you’re gonna get in the swing and a miss, he’s able to just hang on a little bit longer. And that’s pretty amazing to me sometimes.

Nick Szasz
And that’s when you say “sugoi”?

Nick Martinez
Yeah, yeah.

Nick Szasz
A couple rapid fire questions: Sapporo ramen or tonkotsu ramen?

Nick Martinez
Oh, wow. I guess that depends. They’re very different. So it depends on how I’m feeling. I like to stick to whatever city I’m in. When I’m in Sapporo, I’ll definitely have the miso. In Fukuoka, I’m having tonkotsu.

Nick Szasz
Sapporo’s ice or Momochi’s sandy beaches

Nick Martinez
Momochi’s sandy beaches. Yeah, that’s an easy one.

Nick Szasz
Any message to your fans here in Fukuoka?

Nick Martinez
Yeah, you know, it’s been tough. We haven’t seen any fans in the stands, so I’m looking forward to seeing you guys and looking forward to the support that you’re gonna give us here at home. And, you know, it gives me energy just knowing that once you’re here, I know I’ll be able to pitch better.

Nick Szasz
How about a message to your fans back in North America?

Nick Martinez
I miss you guys? You know, I have my family back home as they cannot come here at this time. So hopefully, I’ll see them soon.

Nick Szasz
So just a few questions about the area of Momochi. Yeah, do you live near the Dome?

Nick Martinez
Yeah, just about a five-minute drive. I like it. I think it’s a nice quiet neighborhood. I think it’s more similar to an American-style neighborhood than people might imagine. Just behind where I live in an area of detached homes, it’s not just all apartments. It’s a quiet beach life—nice and quiet neighborhood. Personally, I relate to that better than apartments. I have lived in New York, too. So city life is not foreign to me. But I like a more suburban lifestyle.

Nick Szasz
Do you have any favorite places to go or spend time in Momochi?

Nick Martinez
Not in Momochii, but in the Daimyo area, I’ve been crushing US Burger. Any chance I get! I love it. The owner, Jim, makes a great hamburger. So yeah, that’s a nice little slice at home, and I go whenever I can. As for Momochi, I haven’t had a chance to go out to the beach yet. I’m looking forward to that. We got a few days off in a row coming up next week, so maybe some fans will catch me out there? Relaxing in the sun?

Nick Szasz
For sure – it was great to talk to you today.

Nick Martinez
Yeah. Thanks for having me. It’s nice talking to you too. We’ll see each other in the stadium sometime.

Copyright ©︎ Fukuoka SoftBank HAWKS Corp. All Rights Reserved.

SoftBank HAWKS Home Game Schedule for July

https://www.softbankhawks.co.jp/global/english/index.html
7/1 (Thu.) vs Lions
7/9 (Fri.) ~ 7/11 (Sun.) vs Buffaloes
7/12 (Mon.) ~ 7/14 (Wed.) vs Eagles
*Due to the Tokyo Olympics, professional baseball will take a break between July 19, 2021 to Thursday, August 12, 2021.

Seahawk Galleria

Seahawk Galleria, a shopping arcade with a diverse array of  shops such as accessories, fashion, sundries, daily necessities, and souvenirs, is located inside the Hilton Fukuoka Seahawk seaside hotel. There’s also a 24h convenience store that can be accessed next to PayPay Dome too. It’s an ideal spot from which to explore the Momochi area.

2-2-3 Jigyohama, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
• Usually 10:00 ~ 20:00 (FamilyMart / 24h)
*Hours vary for each shop due to COVID-19. (as of the end of June. 2021)
http://seahawk-galleria.com/en/
https://www.facebook.com/SeahawkGalleria

Holiday Walk
This website by Seahawk Galleria offers suggestions for walking tours of the Seaside Momochi area, where many of Fukuoka’s landmarks are located. Check it for information on what’s hot in Momochi now – and for ideas for a path to stroll not found in guidebooks.
http://seahawk-galleria.com/travellers/
https://www.instagram.com/seahawkgalleria/

Your Guide to The Latest in Momochi – Momochi Now!
Learn about all the attractions in Momochi from the well-known to the newest and lesser known.
▷Back number: https://www.fukuoka-now.com/en/momochi-now/

Category
People
Momochi / Nishijin
Published: Jun 28, 2021 / Last Updated: Jun 28, 2021

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