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Teen female knuckleballer Yoshida coached up by Tim Wakefield

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Teenager Eri Yoshida threw her knuckleball and seemed to make quite an impression on her idol, Tim Wakefield(notes) of the Boston Red Sox.

Yoshida, an 18-year-old from Japan who pitched for an independent league in Arizona this winter, had something of a fantasy camp experience this week at Red Sox spring training in Fort Myers, Fla.

You might remember the Stew reporting in December on Yoshida, the first woman to play professional baseball in her home country, who taught herself a knuckleball after watching video of Wakefield.

After finishing his own bullpen session Tuesday, the 43-year-old Wakefield watched Yoshida — who worked out in a No. 49 Wakefield T-shirt — do her thing.

Her side-arm knuckler dances in the 50-mph range with a fastball topping about 60.

Here's brief video from the session.

So, what does Wake think? Can the kid pitch?

MLB.com's Ian Browne reports:

"I'm impressed," Wakefield said. "She spun a couple, but for the most part, it was very good. She was able to take the spin out of a lot of them and they had quite a lot of movement on them."

Hopefully, the interaction will help Yoshida develop her talent. Her results from the Arizona winter league were mixed.

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Yoshida pitched four shutout innings against Team Canada on Feb. 12, but finished league play with a 6.16 ERA in 19 innings. She walked six and struck out four — a total Yoshida must better if she's to advance beyond a novelty.

But hey, her stats weren't even close to worst in the league. To some degree, she held her own.

Making the pilgrimage to meet Wakefield sent Yoshida's emotions off the charts.

"I never thought I could ever feel this happy," she said.

With Daisuke Matsuzaka's(notes) translator assisting, Yoshida and Wakefield were able to converse. What did he tell her?

"Just mechanics stuff," Wakefield said. "Some of my checkpoints that I use to try to throw with a stiff wrist and things. I just saw a couple of things that she was doing wrong, and she was able to correct it."

Wakefield also signed a baseball for Yoshida before wishing her luck.

Pitching for your idol while wearing his jersey, having chat and getting an autograph sounds like fun, but Yoshida wants to glean more from the encounter. What could be better for a young knuckleballer than drawing from the tree of Wakefield knowledge?

"I think everything that he taught me is going to give me a chance to really work on what I need to work on," Yoshida said. "But also, I got a chance to meet him, and it really gave me some courage and the confidence I need to really get back to training hard."

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