Red Sox dress rookie Matsuzaka as Teletubby for trip to Toronto
TORONTO -- The Boston Red Sox didn't need an interpreter for this: With one quick wardrobe change, Daisuke Matsuzaka went from star pitcher to Teletubby.
"I didn't think there was anything that could make me laugh last night. There was," manager Terry Francona said Monday.
Many teams use a late season trip as a chance to have some fun with the rookies, dressing them in outlandish costumes that must be worn on the flight to the next city. Dice-K had to don the outfit following Sunday night's 4-3 loss to the New York Yankees at Fenway Park.
In addition to Matsuzaka, Boston's veterans dressed reliever Hideki Okajami and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury as female pirates, pitcher Clay Buchholz as Minnie Mouse and outfielder Brandon Moss as Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz."
"There were some interesting looks, but no international incidents," Francona said.
Third baseman Mike Lowell said Matsuzaka and translator Masa Hoshino -- also a Teletubby -- wore the funniest outfits.
"That was pretty original, I thought," Lowell said.
Francona said watching Matsuzaka clear customs at Toronto airport was "hilarious."
"Somebody wrote a check for $102 million, and he's going through dressed as a rodent," Francona said.
Francona was pleased that Matsuzaka, an eight-year veteran of the Japanese leagues, had no problem overcoming the cultural barriers and taking the joke.
"I went through this in Philly with (Vicente) Padilla, where he didn't get it and it wasn't good," Francona said. "The way guys handle those things helps the team. We got in at 4 in the morning, but it was a good plane ride."
Lowell said the Red Sox didn't go overboard in dressing up their teammates.
"The guys took it great," Lowell said. "It's a night flight. No one is going to see you. They did it the right way."
It was certainly an easier ride than the time Lowell was forced to dress in hobo clothes as a Florida rookie in 1999.
"There were no stewardesses on the flight," Lowell said. "We had to serve all the drinks and everything."
The costumed ballplayers made for a colorful evening at Toronto's Pearson Airport. Hours earlier, the Baltimore Orioles had pulled the same prank as they left for New York, dressing right-hander Fernando Cabrera in a gorilla suit, right-hander Jeremy Guthrie as a female nurse and left-hander Kurt Birkins as a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.
"Customs was probably thinking some guys were pretty weird," Lowell said. "I think they got it. They knew it was a joke."
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