'Pretty cool' working out with No. 1
BY Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
Maybe the sequel to Field of Dreams should be filmed on Kaua'i.
One could not even dream the experience Kaua'i High senior catcher Lanan Rice-Kashima had last month. All he did was have some private workouts with Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg. Yes, the top pick of last year's MLB draft and regarded as the best or second-best prospect entering this season.
The workouts were arranged by Strasburg's agents — he is represented by Scott Boras — so the former San Diego State All-America pitcher could stay in shape during his honeymoon on Kaua'i. Rice-Kashima heard from the agents first.
"Then I got a text from (Strasburg)," Rice-Kashima said. "I thought, 'Wow, this is pretty nuts. This is pretty cool.' "
They had about six workouts at Kaua'i High School. It's one thing to catch a high school pitcher. It's another to catch someone who has been documented firing in triple digits.
"The first time, I was kind of nervous, just knowing he can throw a hundred miles an hour," Rice-Kashima said. "He wasn't bringing it full potential, but he was bringing it pretty hard."
Not all of their meetings were on the field. Rice-Kashima's family owns Brick Oven Pizza on Kaua'i.
"We brought him over for dinner," Rice-Kashima said.
Their first workout was just two of them. But with each ensuing workout, teammates and later others from the community started showing up, Rice-Kashima said.
"He gave a speech to our (Kaua'i High) team on his road to MLB," Rice-Kashima said. "It was pretty cool."
The thrills continued for Rice-Kashima's even after Strasburg left Kaua'i. Last week in spring training, the pitcher who signed a major-league contract with a record $7.5 million bonus plus a $15.1 million guarantee gave Rice-Kashima some big-time props to the national media. Strasburg specifically named Rice-Kashima in an ESPN report. He did the same in a Washington Post article.
" 'Put his name in there; he'll get a kick out of that,' " was a quote from Strasburg referring to Rice-Kashima in a Feb. 16 article in the Post.
Rice-Kashima said his team was on O'ahu over the weekend when he first heard of the ESPN report. He said he was asleep at his team's hotel.
"After the ESPN thing, my phone was getting blown up," Rice-Kashima said. "Everyone kept calling me and texting me, telling me I was on ESPN."
He learned of the Post story by accident. A friend wasn't familiar with Strasburg, so Rice-Kashima told him to "Google him." His friend told him he saw his name show up linked with Strasburg.
"I was, 'Whoa, that's pretty cool,' " Rice-Kashima said.
He texted Strasburg to let him know he saw the article. He got a return message from Strasburg telling him, "Glad that you saw your name. Good luck this season."
The 5-foot-9, 165-pound Rice-Kashima, who turns 18 in a couple of weeks, said he is looking into some colleges to play baseball and leaning toward NAIA Lewis-Clark State, where a number of players from Hawai'i have played.
His Kaua'i Interscholastic Federation season starts March 6. But he'll never forget his how preseason turned out.
"It was an honor to catch him and fun," Rice-Kashima said.