Japanese youths from quake-hit areas get Orioles baseball lesson

BALTIMORE, Maryland (Kyodo) -- A group of young Japanese baseball and softball players from disaster-hit northeastern Japan received a special tutorial Thursday from Baltimore Orioles pitchers Jason Berken and Michael Gonzalez at the team's home field in downtown Baltimore, Maryland. Marveling at the view of the spectators' stand from the bullpen of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the 16 junior and senior high school students from Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi prefectures listened enthusiastically to the major league pitchers' advice on pitching mechanics and asked questions like "what's your fastest pitch?" The players also practiced fielding grounders with Berken and Gonzalez. Rikuzentakata and Ishinomaki are among places worst-hit by the March 11 tsunami. After the practice, Berken told reporters he hopes "the future turns out well" for the students. Visiting the United States at the invitation of the U.S. government, the Japanese students plan to stay in the country through Aug. 23 and participate in exchanges through baseball and softball. They met U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and major league Hall of Famer Cal Ripken on Tuesday. (Mainichi Japan) August 12, 2011