...How's this for a perk: Softbank players will have a chance to use iPhones for free until the start of the season. Sometime in the not so distant future, the Hawks hope that the iPhone will become a useful tool for players to check out video footage of their games, where ever they are, when ever they want.
...Hanshin Tigers Takahiro Arai is working on a new batting stance. Said Arai, "I want to make better use of my lower body. I've got the time and I'm trying a number of different things."
Arai battled back pains last season and inadvertantly developed some bad habits to compensate. The changes he's making now are in attempt to break away from those bad habits.
...The Hanshin Tigers have announced that they would like to increase the number of scouts they have based in the US. To that end, Andy Sheets has been hired on as a probationary candidate. The Tigers will have Sheets attend Spring Training events during March and if things go well, he may be hired on in a more official role.
...Rakuten Eagles 2008 first round draft pick Hiromichi Fujiwara felt stiffness in his throwing shoulder (left-handed) and was dropped down to Ni-gun for his practice sessions. Katsuya Nomura was thinking about trying Fujiwara out in the number 3 or 4 spot in the starting rotation this season.
Fujiwara tossed 2 innings in an intra squad game on the 18th and felt discomfort in his shoulder after the game.
...37-year-old pitcher Yuji Yoshioka took a flight out to the States to continue his search for an MLB team interested in his services. He attended a try-out for 12 teams in November but didn't receive a callback and had been practicing in Sendai since then.
"I'll continue working out in the US and will try to find a team that's interested with my representative. I'll also consider teams in Asia," said Yoshioka.
Yoshioka has hired Ray Poitevint to represent him in the US.
...Players were making final adjustments today in preparation for the upcoming practice games against the Yomiuri Giants. Daisuke Matsuzaka tossed 106 pitches (his personal high this year). Pitchers and infielders went over signs for the first time today.
Ichiro is expected to hit third and start in right for the practice game on the 21st. Hara also intends on using 5 pitchers during the game and will most likely try to get every position player into the game.
...This appears to be the starting line-up Tatsunori Hara will be using during the practice game against the Giants tomorrow.
...Nobuhiko Matsunaka is still working on a separate training program due to his foot sores he developed back on the 18th. While he spent time working on his batting, he did not run or take fielding practice. He will most likely enter the game practice game tomorrow as a replacement.
...Munenori Kawasaki spent some time at third durig fielding practice today and is said to be willing to play some third if it means making the team. It would seem that the best way to make the final cut is to be a player that is capable of fielding a number of different positions.
...Kenji Johjima made some headlines today when he suggested that it would be best for the team if things don't go smoothly during training. But he had a good reason for saying that.
"The best would be for there to be some problems in communication between the catcher and pitcher. Instead of things going well, I think it would be best for things to be so-so. It's through the problems we'd learn more about the things we need to work on," said Johjima.
...Four umps (2 from each league) will be working the field at the WBC. Minoru Nakamura and Masami Yoshikawa (both from the PL) will be umpiring Pool C games in Toronto. Masato Tomoyose and Hitoshi Watarida (CL umps) will be working Pool 2 games taking place in Miami.
...Miyazaki Tourism has been fielding a lot of calls regarding practice camps in the area. "During these camp sessions, we'd get a maximum of 100 calls a day, but right now, we're maxing out at 500," said one employee.
...Niigata Prefecture is putting the naming rights for its new stadium up for sale. The naming rights will be up for sale for one month starting at the beginning of March. Niigata Prefecture would like to make a final decision by the middle of May.
...Training camp photos from February 20th (Sanspo).
...WBC training camp photos from February 20th (Sanspo).