Just how serious is Ichiro Suzuki about pitching, if needed, at the WBC? He tossed 56 pitches in a bullpen session yesterday. Suzuki even threw in a few forkballs for good measure. His top speed? 147km/h (~91mph)
Said Ichiro, "I'm here today for a purpose. This isn't just playing around. I'm not here to relax."
Ichiro in the bullpen
BTW: for those of you that are a little blunt ... 2/7 -> 207 -> 207 pitches
...Hideo Nomo tossed 48 pitches as BP pitcher yesterday and was rewarded to claps from some 700-odd onlookers. It was the first time Nomo has publically faced Japanese players (on Japanese soil) since he was with the Kintetsu Buffaloes.
...Darrell Rasner (Rakuten Eagles) tossed his first bullpen yesterday (48 pitches). "He's got good control and he has different speeds. He's my type of pitcher," said manager Katsuya Nomura.
Rasner has also said he'd be more than happy to help out Hisashi Iwakuma and Masahiro Tanaka with anything questions they might have about facing major leaguers.
...Here's another interesting training story...
Rookie Taishi Ohta spent some time training with Giants manager Tatsunori Hara yesterday. The theme of their training: Don't fear the ball.
So how does this work?
...with the batter donning a catcher's mask and hitting balls that are tossed near his face.
Ohta trying to prove he's not afraid of the ball
...Just how popular is Daisuke Matsuzaka?
Enough to draw roughly 8,000 fans to Nango training camp grounds. Mind you, the town only has a population of 11,000.
Fans crowding around Matsuzaka for their chance at a signature.
And speaking of Matsuzaka, it appears he's been tweaking his delivery a little. At a bullpen session yesterday, he was seen with a slightly longer stride (roughly 2.8 inches).
When asked why he was making such and adjustment, Matsuzaka said, "My usually stride is about 71.5 inches. When I first went to the Majors, I had to close that up a little, but last season I was at around 71.5 inches. This year, I'd really like to try and extend myself a bit more. I was able to do that a few times last season."
Incidentally, the article also mentions that mounds in Japan tend to be much softer than mounds in the States, making it a good place to practice lengthening one's stride.
...Camp photos from February 7th (Sanspo).