...In preparation for a couple of exhibition games (2/26 & 2/28) against the Lotte Marines, the Rakuten Eagles have sent pitchers Kenta Satake, Darrell Rasner, Kanehisa Arime, Marcus Gwyn, Matt Childers, infielders Fernando Seguignol, Makoto Kosaka, Rick Short, Norihiro Nakamura, outfielders Kochi Isobe, and Kenshi Kawaguchi to train with the Ichi-gun squad.
Two players with the Ichi-gun squad, pitcher Takashi Ishida and infielder Jobu Morita, are being dropped to the Ni-gun squad.
...Maximo Nelson (Chunichi Dragons) tossed 222 pitches in his bullpen session yesterday (he spent an hour and half throwing). Nelson's previous high was 216, set on the 21st.
...Yoshinori Sato (Yakult Swallows) hit 152km/h on the radar gun againt the Lotte Marines on Wednesday, his second pre-season start this year. He tossed 4 innings, gave up 2 hits, walked 2, and didn't give up a run.
...Rakuten Eagles manager Katsuya Nomura has placed a ban on his players from going to the visitor's dugout before games to pay their respects.
Said Nomura, "All my players do is bow here and there before games. And it's only our players. None of our opponents have ever come to see me before the games."
I just can't get enough Nomura...
...Seibu Lions manager Hisanobu Watanabe is feeling so good about his team's training session, he's given them a rating of 99 (the same mark as last season).
"I'm really feeling the energy from the youngsters right now. I think we've been able to raise the bar," said Watanabe.
...G.G. Sato has finally agreed to terms with the Seibu Lions. He received a 30M yen raise and will make 67M yen, plus bonuses, this year.
"I'm relieved. I left negotiations up to my agent this year so that I can focus on my practices. ... The exhibition games will be starting soon so I'm glad this was settled this month," said Sato.
...Hiroshima Carp manager Marty Brown is also feeling good about his team's camp session so far.
Said Brown, "Competition is really begining to heat up. At the same time, I'm seeing more of everyone's individuality as well. I think it's the best camp I've had in the 4 years I've been here."
...The Hanshin Tigers will start the year with Norihiro Akahoshi, Kentaro Sekimoto, and Takashi Toritani as the first three hitters in the starting lineup. While the speedy combination of Akahoshi and Sekimoto were together last season, they should have more opportunities to run this season as Akinobu Mayumi loves the running game.
After that, Takahiro Asai and Tomoaki Kanemoto (the "AK Canon") will mostly like hit 4 and 5, followed by the newly acquired Kevin Mench in the 6 hole.
...The Tigers were hoping that either Shinobu Fukuhara and Satoru Kanemura (or both), would be able to help out in the rotation this year, but both pitchers suffered setbacks in their latest practice game appearances. Fukuhara gave up 4 runs on 7 hits over 3 innings and Kanmura 1 run on 2 hits over 2 innings.
...The Orix Buffaloes have 12 spots on the roster for pitchers. Of those 12 spots, 7 have been more or less filled: starters Satoshi Komatsu, Shogo Yamamoto, Kazuki Endo, Yoshihisa Hirano, Mamoru Kishida, and closer Daisuke Kato.
...Tuffy Rhodes (Orix Buffaloes) complained of some discomfort in his right knee during practice the other day. It doesn't seem serious at this point though. Said Orix manager Ohishi, "It doesn't sound like it's that bad. I told him not to push things too hard and to just be ready by opening day."
During yesterday's practice, he worked out with the rest of the team, skipping only dashes.
...Hideo Nomo was on the mound again for BP. He started off doing some light throwing, but as he continued, he slowly began to use his signature "tornado" delivery and ended up tossing about 100 pitches.
...The WBC continues to grip the whole of Japan. Over 500 fans (along with about 50 reporters) gathered at Osaka Station to see Samurai Japan players off to Tokyo. Station officials weren't ready for such a large crowd and qiuckly scrambled together about 20 employees to help with crowd control.
The crowd at Osaka Station...
"No one told us about this so we had to rush in order to round up enough people to help out around the Shinkansen ticket area," said a station official.
...TV ratings from the Samurai Japan vs Australia games on the 24th and 25th for the Kanto region: 20.8% and 18.1% respectively.
...Katsuhiro Miyamoto, a professor at Kansai University, is claiming that another WBC Championship could generate 50B yen for Japan's economy.
Incidentally, the first WBC generated about 36B yen.
...Yesterday was an off-day (more like a travel day as the team moved from Osaka to Tokyo) for Samurai Japan.
...A day after getting struck in the arm, Norichika Aoki was at Jingu Stadium working out. He played catch and took about 30 swings of the bat.
Said Aoki about getting hit, "It's just a little swollen. I'm ok. It actually might help me ease up a little."
He also added, "Now that I'm in Tokyo, it's finally beginning to feel like the WBC is near. I'm ready for the next 2 practice games. ... I don't want to be passive at the plate. I want to attack the pitch every chance I get."
...It's been mentioned a number of times on the tv and in the press that Bob Davidson won't be part of the WBC umpiring crew this year. I guess the Nishioka tag-up play remains strongly etched in the minds of more than a handful of fans.
...Australia's manager Jon Deeble said it was too early to judge Daisuke Matsuzaka and that his batters returned to the dugout saying that they couldn't hit his slider. He also added, "We came to Japan with a pretty young roster. We had four 18-year-olds. The WBC roster will be completely different."
...Sadaharu Oh was choosen by Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone to become Japan's official baseball ambassador yesterday.
...Training camp photos from February 26th (Sanspo).