Given extra chance, Nakajima gets first MLB hit

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The third time was the charm for Hiroyuki Nakajima on Tuesday.

With two punchouts in two at-bats already complete, Nakajima didn't want to leave Tuesday's game against the D-backs at Salt River Fields with his third consecutive 0-for-2 performance. Neither did his manager, Bob Melvin, who gave the Japanese infielder one more at-bat.

Nakajima took advantage, knocking a single through the right side of the infield for his first Major League hit.

"Finally, I got that first hit out of the way, so I'm very much relieved," Nakajima said through his translator.

Melvin also was happy.

"It's nice to get your first hit, and it just relaxes you some," said Melvin, adding that he might give Nakajima extra at-bats from time to time in order to get him acclimated. "We know he's going to hit. It's early in Spring Training, and he's doing the right thing in how he's handling his at-bats."

Melvin wasn't the only member of the staff to help Nakajima before his first hit. The shortstop also received words of encouragement from batting coach Chili Davis.

"Before going out to the plate, I got advice from Chili Davis, saying that I was being kind of overaggressive in the previous two at-bats," Nakajima said. "He told me to relax, be patient, and that advice really helped in this at-bat."

With the hit, Nakajima is 1-for-7 with a walk in three Cactus League games. Despite the struggles, he said that nothing is surprising him in the box -- though he mentioned that the length of pitchers' strides in the Majors differs from that in Japan, which is taking some getting used to.

Tuesday's hit could prove he's becoming accustomed to it.