Koji Uehara often makes hitters look silly. It only makes sense because Uehara himself is a little bit wacky.
Uehara has an infectious personality, and his ability to connect with teammates despite a language barrier has earned him the admiration of those he’s encountered since arriving in Boston.
“He’s one of the coolest people I’ve ever met,” rookie Drake Britton told the Providence Journal’s Brian MacPherson.
Uehara has been winning over teammates with his personality ever since he joined the Orioles organization in 2009 after carving out an impressive career in Japan. The 38-year-old still conducts interviews through a translator, but he doesn’t need many words to get a rise out of his teammates.
“He doesn’t have the opportunity — because he doesn’t speak the language clear enough — to try to build up jokes,” Craig Breslow told the Providence Journal. “His one-liners are quite a bit more poignant because there’s not this setup and kind of ‘Let’s get to the punchline.’ Every time he opens his mouth, it’s a punchline. He’s got a great sense of humor.”
Uehara’s energy is unmatched, and one doesn’t have to look any further than his emphatic high-fives as proof. But even when he’s not slapping hands, Uehara is using his limited English and various other communication methods — such as impressions — to keep everyone smiling.
“I don’t think guys think of him as someone who has come over from another continent,” Breslow reportedly said. “They think of him as one of the guys.”