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Pitcher, Interpreter Injured

March 03, 2003|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

VERO BEACH, Fla. — Dodger minor league pitcher Masao Kida suffered major injuries, and Teppei Shiokawa, the 27-year-old interpreter for Dodger pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii, suffered life-threatening injuries in a two-car accident about 65 miles north of the team's training complex Saturday night.

Kida and Shiokawa were returning from the Orlando area and were driving east on State Road 520, a two-lane road, when they were struck head-on at 7:18 p.m. EST by a vehicle driven by 26-year-old David Eugene Butler of Orlando.

Both Kida, who was driving, and Shiokawa were wearing seat belts, and police said alcohol was not a factor in the accident, which was caused when Butler's car veered into Kida's lane.

Shiokawa was air-lifted to Orlando Regional hospital, where his injuries were deemed "so bad we had a chaplain communicating with us," said Derrick Hall, the Dodgers' senior vice president for communications.

But Shiokawa's condition improved after surgery to remove his spleen and to repair a torn bowel, and his vital signs were normal Sunday morning. Doctors told the Dodgers they expect a full recovery, but Shiokawa is expected to remain in intensive care for a few days before being moved to a private room.

"He's been with me the whole time [this spring], and he's part of the team," Ishii said after pitching two innings of an exhibition game against Houston. "I hope he's OK. I will try hard for him. If I try hard and play well, maybe Teppei will hear that and get better because of it."

Kida, a 34-year-old right-hander, suffered a broken toe, bruising of the abdomen, liver and spleen and a back injury. He was transported to Wusstoff Regional Hospital in Rockledge, Fla.

Butler and a passenger in his car, Jeremy Watts, 26, of Kissimmee, Fla., were treated at the hospital and released.

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