Sanspo: The JABA will be adjusting their strike zones.
The JABA currently defines the lower portion of the strike zone as "extending downwards, where the size of the entire ball passes above the kneecap." The official rules are more fluid, stating that a ball is considered a strike as long as it "passes through a portion of the zone."
Koji Aso, JABA chairman, says the strike zone isn't being changed to shorten game times, but rather to help bring things in line for international competition. The new changes will be enforced beginning next season.
Sponichi: Junichi Tazawa has begun his training program. Despite being advised to take it easy during the off-season by the Red Sox (practice 2 days, rest 1 day), Tazawa will instead be implementing a much more rigorous training schedule (practice 5 days, rest 1 day). If he had his way, Tazawa would also begin a throwing program, but the Red Sox have asked him to back away from throwing and instead focus on running.
And some initial impressions regarding the WBC preliminary picks... Why some people were surprised that Hara didn't choose any players from the Dragons is beyond me. All their good players basically said they had no interest in participating. Some were also surprised only one Tiger made the first cut. ... Samurai Japan might have as many as 7 MLBers on the final roster. ... 22 of the 34 players announced yesterday are 28 or younger. ... The Giants, Hawks, and Lions each have 5 players on the preliminary rosters. ... The Tigers (Fujikawa), Swallows (Aoki), Buffaloes (Komatsu), and the Marines (Watanabe) each have 1 player on the preliminary roster.