NIPPON HAM FIGHTERS
...The Ham Fighters will bring up Tomohiro Nioka for Sho Nakata. Fighters manager Masataka Nashida said, "Nioka will join the team in Sapporo for practice on the 13th. I haven't spoken to him yet, but I'm thinking about using him as a DH or pinch-hitter for an at bat or two."
Nioka suffered a strained right calf muscle and has been rehabbing the injury. He still can't do much of any fielding or dashes, but he is able to swing a bat.
...A little more on Sho Nakata. During his time in Ichi-gun this year, he struck out 11 times in 18 trips to the plate (he also had 2 hits and 2 rbis).
Said Nashida, "He is getting better, but when close to 70% of the outs you make are strike outs, that's not a good sign. His defense over at third isn't all that good either. I'd like to see him grow a little more [before keeping him at Ichi-gun]."
...Kenta Kurihara has been swinging a hot bat for the Hiroshima Carp. He now has a 7 game hitting streak and has driven in a run in 4 straight games.
...Colby Lewis may have solidified his chances of being elected as opening day starter for his second straight season after his solid outing against the Giants yesterday. He tossed 3 innings of 1-hit, no-run ball and topped off at 149km/h on the radar gun.
...The Rakuten Eagles exploded for 11 runs on 18 hits in a game against the Orix Buffaloes earlier today. Said manager Katsuya Nomura, "This is what I like to see. We got some timely hitting and many of our hits went to center."
Norihiro Nakamura collected three 3 hits in the exhibition game and said, "I'm finally getting back into a rhythm. I just need to keep this going now."
On finding Colonel Sanders...
"Kuidaore? (A famous Osaka figure, like Colonel Sanders) The KFC man? I think I remember seeing something about it on the news. What a peaceful world we live in... That's news? When I die, I'll just a tiny service. There will be a short blurb about in the papers. Just a few words in the obituaries."
...Three different relievers (Hiroki Kondo, Masafumi Hirai, and Akifumi Takahashi) gave up 11 runs over 3 innings of work in an exhibition game against the Hiroshima Carp earlier today. 5 of the 11 runs came against lefty pitcher Akifumi Takahashi.
...The Hanshin Tigers held their first practice at the newly renovated Koshien Stadium. Tigers manager Akinobu Mayumi said, "The new changes look great. I can't wait for Opening Day."
...As mentioned in my article about the curse of Colonel Sanders, the Tigers are hoping to get the figure on loan from KFC Japan so that they may put it on display at Koshien Stadium. KFC Japan has said that they will consider the offer once they have the figure in their possession.
...The Yomiuri Giants were in the stands at the 64th JABA Tokyo Sponichi Tournament to watch Hisayoshi Chono play. Chono batted third and started in center while going 2-for-4.
...Edgardo Alfonzo went 2-for-4 in a 1-0 loss against the Hiroshima Carp yesterday.
Said Alfonzo, "I'm at about 80% right now. I'm just trying to get a read on the pitchers. I think my numbers will so get better from here on out."
...Yoshinori Sato tossed 5 scoreless innings against the Softbank Hawks in an exhibition game yesterday. He faced 19 batters and tossed 85 pitches while striking out 8. Sato also gave up 4 hits and hit a batter. He also managed to hit 155km/h on the speed gun.
Said Sato about his outing, "Compared to last year, I think I felt more composed and relaxed on the mound. Up until now, I'd walk a batter and then fall apart, but today, I didn't walk anyone."
Last year against the Hawks in an exhibition game, Sato gave up 6 runs on 6 hits over 4 innings of work. He was promptly sent down to Ni-gun after that outing.
...In a telephone interview with Yoshinori Sato's father:
On his son throwing some really great pitches...
I was working so I couldn't get to the stadium, but the family watched him on TV. It looks like he's really grown a lot in the past year.
On revenge against the Softbank Hawks...
After that game last year, we went out to dinner and he said, "I can't let this slide. I need to go back to Ni-gun and work on my issues." I really wanted to praise him then.
On keeping in touch with him...
I spoke to him on the phone this morning. He was talking about his allergies. That has been his enemy since high school. I remember him pitching in games with sore red nose. After the game, I called and told him "Nice pitching!"
...The Yakult Swallows visited Meiji Jingu Shrine on the 12th in preparation for a successful 2009 season.
The Swallows at Meiji Jingu Shrine