CHIBA LOTTE MARINES
...Shunsuke Watanabe continues to work out at Ni-gun and made his second relief appearance. Watanabe hopes to join the Ichi-gun rosters sometime in the second half of April.
...Former Tiger Motoh Ando will be tossing out the first pitch for the home opener against the Hiroshima Carp.
...Takahiro Arai was in the batting cages on Wednesday and said that everything was "normal." He was also seen working on various throwing techniques to help ease some of the strain on his right elbow (he injured his right arm in early March and he's still recovering).
...Tomoaki Kanemoto was finally given the green light to start practicing at full strength. For the first time this year, he ran the bases at full speed and made some full-body throws to second from left field.
...The Tigers are hopeful that Akihiro Yano will be able to make his return to the playing field against the Giants on the 10th.
...Tigers' US-based scout Thomas O'Malley dropped by to check in on Kevin Mench and spent about 40 minutes with him working on his swing.
...Yasutomo Kubo tossed 126 pitches in a bullpen session on Tuesday. It was the first time he has thrown so many pitches prior to the start of the regular season. Kubo is on tap to make a start on the 5th against the Swallows.
...Wei-Chu Lin will start the season in Ni-gun.
...It seems as though tickets to Hanshin games are selling pretty well. It's still fairly early and there are already reports that some games are close to selling out. Last season, the Tigers were tops in attendance at 2,976,754 (the Giants were number 2 at 2,876,274) and are hoping to top the 3M mark this season.
NIPPON HAM FIGHTERS
...The Fighters have placed a 120 pitch limit on Yu Darvish's first start of the season.
...23-year-old, right-handed rookie Ryo Sakakibara (2008 2nd Round Pick) managed to win a spot in the starting rotation. He will be making his NPB debut on the 8th against the Lotte Marines.
...Hisashi Iwakuma tossed 70 pitches in a bullpen session on Tuesday (he was working on getting re-acquainted with the NPB ball). It was the first time he really bore down during practice since returning from the WBC.
...Katsuya Nomura isn't fretting about being predicted as managing a last place team.
Said Nomura, "Why not? Means we can play with less pressure. ... Baseball, weather, and the economy just can't be predicted."
...The Seibu Lions introduced a new ticket plan called the "Charao Seats." The plan is named after Hiroshi Hirao, whose stock rose amongst fans last year during the Nippon Series against the Yomiuri Giants.
But that's not all the new ticket plan takes from Hirao -- the new plan will also rely heavily on the number 8: the plan will only be available on days with the number 8 in it (apparently there will be 8 of these days) and will be limited to quantities of 8. All 8 seats will be located in areas that provide a clear view of Hirao on the field.
It was also announced that official Charao T-shirts will go on sale on the 8th.
...Takeya Nakamura will be the Lions' number 4 hitter this season. He was in the 6 hole for most of the 2008 seasons and was later shifted to the 4 hole from the Climax Series.
...Tamura Hitoshi was left off the active roster due to ongoing shoulder pains. There is currently no information about how long he might be out.
...40-year-old veteran Masao Kida has made the starting rotation as the 5th man. His start will come against the Chunichi Dragons on the 8th. It will mark the first time in 11 years (when he was with Orix) that Kida has started a game in Japan.
...Norichika Aoki was back in the batting cages again on Tuesday.
YOKOHAMA BAY STARS
...Seiichi Uchikawa is set to be the number 4 hitter in the line-up and will start in left.
...Aiko Uemura (mogul skier) will be tossing out the first pitch during the home opener.
...Seth Greisinger will be starting the home opener against the Hiroshima Carp on the 3rd. The last time a foreigner started a home opener for the Giants was back in 1999 when Balvino Galvez took the ball.
...The NPB will be opening up a site to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Central and Pacific Leagues. The link is active, but there's not really much there yet.