...Byung Kyu Lee was recently demoted to Ni-gun and there's a chance he might start the season down there as well. It probably didn't help that he also ended the spring with a .146 batting average.
Including Lee, the Dragons have six foreigners (Maximo Nelson P, Chen Weiyin P, Nelson Payano P, Tony Blanco INF and Tomas De La Rosa INF) for four spots on the roster.
...Kevin Mench on spring training in Japan:
In the US, you slowly progress to playing form [over the course of the spring] but in Japan you need to be ready a lot sooner. I just need to get things going.
...There's a good chance Koda Sakurai will begin the season at Ni-gun.
...The little compartments underneath the outfield seats have apparently been a hit with the fans. Other things like extra lockers and more aisles have made the ballpark a lot more "user friendly."
The little compartment for your things underneath the seats.
...It appears as though not everything about the New Mazda Stadium is perfect. Carp manager Marty Brown is a little concerned with the "Seats Covered in Sand" area of the stands. The seats will probably prove to be very popular amongst fans because they are so close to the action, but Brown is worried about fans trying to peak into the dugout and how that might affect the players. Unfortunately, there's not much that can be done to alleviate this problem at this point in time.
It'll be interesting to see how this story develops over the course of the season.
NIPPON HAM FIGHTERS
...Some comments from Yu Darvish:
On his first game back in Japan...
I was able to throw my curve and change more, something I really couldn't do during the WBC, so that was good. Overall, I didn't feel good or bad.
Differences in the mound...
The WBC ball was heavier and the mounds were much harder. That allowed me to throw the ball with more velocity. The mound at Sapporo Dome is a little soft so it feels like it absorbs all my power. I'll have to hold a bullpen session to check on a few more things.
Not throwing the two-seamer and fork
I don't think I need to throw the two-seamer yet. I don't really want to throw the fork until later on in the season, but I may just go ahead and throw it a lot right from the start.
Being tired from the WBC
Pitching in Finals game like that, and then the travel... I do feel a little tired from that.
...Koji Yamasaki, Jon Leicester, and Ryota Katsuki were all demoted to Ni-gun.
...Masahiro Tanaka will get the ball for opening day at Kleenex Stadium against the Softbank Hawks (April 7th).
...Miyagi Prefecture awarded Hisashi Iwakuma with a Prefectural Citizen Honor Award for his performance at the WBC.
YOKOHAMA BAY STARS
...Seiichi Uchikawa was hitting in the clean-up spot in the line-up on Sunday and managed to drive in a run. IMHO, I'm not really sure if that's where he belongs, but without Murata, they may have no other choice.