The crowd of Japanese reporters that follows Los Angeles rookie Hideo Nomo around has diminished to just a handful, which is OK with Nomo. He'd prefer to go out and pitch and pitch well, which he did Wednesday against Pittsburgh, when he struck out 16, a record for a Dodgers rookie. Someone asked him if the record meant much to him. "No," he said, "it doesn't matter to me." No? "Why, does it mean a lot to you?" Scribes have focused on Nomo's unorthodox delivery, but Pittsburgh shortstop Jay Bell said if he were writing, "I'd write about the quality of his pitching.... He's a good pitcher because he's got good stuff, not because he has some trick." Bell would know - he's struck out six times in seven at-bats against Nomo. The Pirates have 30 strikeouts in 15 innings against him.