Kris Johnson on his Hiroshima Carp teammate, Kenta Maeda.

Kenta Maeda

Kenta Maeda has an affinity for for Hi-Chew candy, according to former teammate Kris Johnson. (David Crane/Staff photographer)


In case you missed it earlier today, I wrote about the surprising baseball career of West Covina native Kris Johnson, a pitcher who bested everyone in Japan to win the ERA title last year. Johnson was teammates with Kenta Maeda last year on the Hiroshima Carp. Here’s what he said about the Dodgers’ newest starting pitcher:

“One of the nicest young men that I met over there. He’s also like a big kid, likes to have a lot of fun. Joking around with him is easy. He had a Hi-Chew (candy) rep on speed dial. I asked him to hook it up. Each sleeve has five (candies), each box has 12 sleeves, each case has 12 boxes. He comes back with four cases. I was handing them out left and right. That’s just off the field stuff.

“On the field, the guy works hard. He’s not a very big guy. He’s tiny. But the guy works hard. Like a damn gazelle, he can run — long distance, sprints, he really does do his work on the field, which really does translate into games. Throws all pitches for strikes. The stuff that they tell you that you need to do to be a big leaguer, he does.

“He led the league for pitchers in hitting, I think he hit 13 hits. I was second with 10. We had a little friendly competition. He’s got pop. He hit one home run last year. I think he’s got a few more over the years.”

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.