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NPB: 33,205 in attendance at yesterday’s game; Matsuzaka pitch limit woes; and more

by on Feb.25, 2009 @ 7:37 pm, under NPB, WBC

...Giants' players on the cusp of making the club now only have 15 more games to prove they belong. Edgardo Alfonzo may also be one of those border-line players as he has struggled a bit at the plate.

...Chris Aguila (Softbank Hawks) is nursing a bad right knee and has been on a separate training menu since the 17th. Aguila hit off a tee for the first time since then. His knee was also examined on the same day and nothing was found to be wrong.

Said Aguila, "It's been a while since I swung a bat, but there weren't any issues with my knee. ... I felt pretty good for the most part. The important thing is the season. I'm in no hurry."

...Katsuya Nomura's quote of the day:

"I was thinking of opening up a steaming bun store in front of Sendai Station. I don't know if it's the coaches or if it's the players. I think the coaches are gone. But then I picked those coaches so I guess I'll be gone first."

Explanation: the Eagles lost a practice game 2-1 yesterday and Nomura was frustrated at the number of 0's on the score board. And 0's = steaming buns.

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...33,205 were in attendance at yesterday's game.

...Toshiya Sugiuchi struck out 5 consecutive batters at one point last night.

Said Sugiuchi, "My outing was a lot better than I had imagined it would be. I hadn't pitched in a little while so I was a little nervous. So I was quite happy with my outing. I figured I'd have a chance to pitch soon so I was prepared."

Sugiuchi will most likely be used in long relief and / or spot start situations.

...Kyuji Fujikawa had a pretty good outing last night. Of the 21 pitches he threw, only 3 were hit (all fouls). He also topped out at 148km/h.

Said Fujikawa, "I imagined that this was a real game. Good, bad, right now is the only time I'll be able to think of either result in a positive light. I just need to focus on throwing hard.

"...When things are going well, they tend to continue going well. It's only a matter of time. Today was alright. I also managed to sweat a little."

...Like Yu Darvish from the night before, Daisuke Matsuzaka appeared to suffer from some control issues that ate into his pitch limit and forced him to leave the game in the middle of the second inning.

Matsuzaka was later quoted as saying, "For me, I have something even worse than some WBC rules. My team has put a 40 pitch limit on me while everyone else has 50."

Seems like Matsuzaka is feeling a bit frustrated with how tight the Red Sox are holding on to his leash.

The original rules stipulate that players in the MLB are allowed 50 pitches during practice (tune-up) games before being required 4 days of rest. However, there is also a line that states clubs player's belong to can limit pitches even further. In this case, the Red Sox originally placed a 30+ pitch limit on Matsuzaka. After long discussions took place between Samurai Japan and the Red Sox took place before the game, the limit was extend to 40.

Matsuzaka added, "I wanted to work on getting to know the catcher better today. I also wanted to see which offspeed pitches are working for me right now. There were a couple that got away from me, so I held a mini bullpen session afterwards and made the necessary adjustments. I should be ok now.

"...I think I'm allowed 50 pitches for my next outing so I'd like to be in full pitching form by then. I want to try out a number of pitches and figure out which ones I can use and which ones I can't."

...There was a bit of a scare last night when Norichika Aoki remained on the ground clutching his left arm -- the throw from the cut-off man struck him square in the arm.

Aoki was seen icing his shoulder after the game and said, "I just got hit in the arm. I should still be able to practice."

...Suzuki Ichiro collected two infield hits last night. And of course, the flash bulbs popped during each one of his at bats.


Even D'Antonio wants a picture of Ichiro...

...Munenori Kawasaki arrived at the park an hour early last night to take grounders at third. He said, "I need to be ready to play any position, not just third."

...Yukiyoshi Kamei wasn't available during last night's game due to neck pains. He apparently injured his neck during practice on the 22nd.

...Samurai Japan players will have access to video footage and data profiles of players from other countries begininng the 27th. A special "data room" is being created for the players.

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...Training camp photos from February 25th (Sanspo).