...There's a good chance Yu Darvish and Hisashi Iwakuma will face each other on opening day at Sapporo Dome (April 3rd).
CHIBA LOTTE MARINES
...Shunsuke Watanabe tossed about 90 pitches in a bullpen session on Thursday.
...The Dragons unveiled a special "Dragons Train 2009" today on the Meijo line in Nagoya. The trains will be in service until November 20th.
Dragons Train 2009
Pictures of Dragons players will also line the walkways between Nagoya Dome-mae Yada station and Nagoya Dome and will be called "Dragons Road 2009."
...Minoru Iwata was diagnosed with rotator cuff tendonitis in his left shoulder (左肩肩峰下滑液胞炎). The earliest he might be able to return in the end of May. Iwata felt something in his shoulder after the third game against Korea.
...Kevin Mench went 1-for-3 with a walk against the Softbank Hawks on Thursday. He is now 6-for-35 with 5 RBIs -- his hit in the 9th was the first in 10 at bats.
...Atsushi Noumi pretty much guaranteed himself a spot in the rotation with his start against the Hawks on Thursday -- he gave up a run (earned) on 3 hits and a walk and struck out 9.
...Yoshiyuki Ishihara was named team captain for the 2009 season.
NIPPON HAM FIGHTERS
...Yu Darvish tossed 55 pitches in his bullpen session today.
...Kondo Kazuki tossed 6 scoreless innings while scattering 3 hits and a walk; he couldn't manage to strike anyone out. Kazuki was having some problems getting his pitches over for strikes but still managed to keep the Dragons off balance.
...Daijiro Ohishi named Satoshi Komatsu his opening day starter against the Softbank Hakws on April 3rd. Komatsu will be making one last exhibition start on the 28th against the Tigers.
...Both Masahiro Tanaka and Hisashi Iwakuma were back with team today. They held a brief press conference prior to practice.
Tanaka will most likely get the exhibition start on Saturday against the Chunichi Dragons.
...Hideaki Wakui will most likely be the opening day pitcher for the Lions this year.
Said Hisanobu Watanabe, "If there was another deserving pitcher, I may have decided differently, but with everyone pitching the way they are... I just thought I might as well go with the pitcher that pitched at the WBC."
Incidentally, Wakui gave up 4 runs (all earned) over 5 innings of work on 12 hits, 2 walks, and 5 strike outs in his start today (all four runs scored in the 5th).
...Roji Aikawa hit his first home run as a Swallow in an exhibition game against the Yokohama Bay Stars on Thursday.
...Chang-Yong Lim returned to Japan earlier today and joined the team for practice.
YOKOHAMA BAY STARS
...Seiichi Uchikawa was back practicing with the team again in Sapporo today -- he will most likely be the opening day left fielder.
...Hiroshi Kisanuki had a rough outing today against the Seibu Lions, giving up 5 runs (4 earned) 8 hits, 2 walks, and 3 strike outs.
...All 5 Yomiuri Giants (Michihiro Ogasawara, Shinnosuke Abe, Tetsuya Utsumi, Yoshiyuki Kamei, and Tetsuya Yamaguchi) named to the WBC roster were in camp again for practice at Kawasaki today.