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WBC: Team Japan t-shirts; Suzuki still slumping; and more…

by on Mar.13, 2009 @ 1:00 am, under WBC

...Four Samurai Japan-themed t-shirts have gone on sale in Scottsdale, Arizona: Mastuzaka, Ichiro, and Fukudome t-shirts and a rising sun version. They apparently carry a price tag of $25 and are all red.

I'm guessing they're referring to these. As far as I know, these never went on sale in Japan. And IMHO, rightly so because these red t-shirts look horrendous.

Incidentally, from what I've heard, most of the Samurai Japan merchandise is sold out in Japan.

...There was a little bit of a scare when Norichika Aoki was hitting of a tee prior to the game on Thursday. A ball that he hit bounced off a net and hit a stadium employee squarely in the face. Needless to say, Aoki was extremely worried about the incident, but was relieved when he found out the employee was fine. The employee handed Aoki a ball with some blood on it and Aoki in turn signed it and returned it to the employee.

Speaking of Aoki, he had a nice day at the plate going 3-for-4 with a walk, an RBI, and a stolen base.

Said Aoki, "You have to be agressive against good pitchers. And that's even more important against pitchers you've never faced."

...Ichiro Suzuki was held hitless against the Cubs yesterday, although he did manage a walk in his four trips to the plate. When asked how he was feeling, Ichiro replied cooly, "Why don't you ask the people watching?"

He obviously isn't very happy with his performance so far. And despite how well he's handled the pressure in the past, at some point you have to start considering whether or not the pressure is indeed starting to get to him. Or if he's pushing too hard by practicing so much.

...Every Yu Darvish replay on the news right now involves the scene of him striking out Zambrano and Soriano back-to-back. But I suppose that makes sense considering he loaded the bases with 2 consecutive singles and a walk. Seems Darvish also managed to hit 155km/h on the radar gun as well.

...With Cuba's 16-4 victory over Mexico, Japan fate has been sealed. They will be facing Cuba to start the second round. Daisuke Matsuzaka will most likely get the call for Japan.

0 comments on “WBC: Team Japan t-shirts; Suzuki still slumping; and more…

  1. knucklehead7

    Ichiro wasn’t alone in yesterday’s game against the Cubs. The first three hitters in the lineup combined to go 0-11.

  2. Gwynar

    Ichiro definitely isn’t the only problem to Japan’s offensive woes. There’s also something to do be said about benching him for a game during these exhibition match-ups, but I don’t think Hara has enough… erm… Well, let’s just say a manager with a little more experience probably wouldn’t be afraid to sit him. It’s actually something that could / should have been done a lot sooner.

    But again, that doesn’t really address the other players in the lineup. Ichiro probably doesn’t deserve all the blame, but he’s become such a dominant figure that everyone looks to him to get things going.

    On a side note: not that it ultimately matteres, but the number 2 hitter was Kataoka — he’s been more of a late-inning replacement so far.

  3. knucklehead7

    With such a small sample size to work with, it would probably be helpful to know how he (and others) have looked in their at-bats as well. I didn’t see the game yesterday, but I know Ichiro himself has admitted to feeling like he’s forcing at the plate as recently as a week ago.

    I think you raise a good question about whether benching him would be helpful at this point. To play devil’s advocate for Hara, Ichiro seems like the type of hitter that could leg out a few infield hits that might help to get him going (even if his timing is off and he isn’t hitting the ball squarely right now).

  4. Gwynar

    I couldn’t really tell how his ABs were going from where I was sitting (during the games first round at Tokyo Dome), but in watching some replays, it certainly does seem like he’s pressing.

    There are probably 2 reasons why Hara won’t sit Ichiro. One of them probably has to do with what I sort of mentioned in my previous comment. The other has to do with what you mentioned in your comments, in other words, his speed. Because he is fast, he’s liable to leg out some infield hits. Unforunately, he hasn’t been able to do that since it seems like most of the grounders he’s hitting right now are right at someone. So there’s probably some "bad" luck involved here.

    But I also really think Ichiro could also do with a little rest right now — and getting benched during one of these exhibition games would have allowed him that. If I’m not mistaken, he hasn’t really taken much time off this off-season and was even training during days the WBC team had the day off. I think he’s beginning to stretch himself a little thin.