CHIBA LOTTE MARINES
...Tadahito Iguchi will be batting clean-up in the opening day line-up for the Marines. Iguchi told reporters that he's really looking forward to his first opening day start in Japan since 2004.
...43-year-old vet Masa Yamamoto will be making a start against the Yakult Swallows on the 8th. That could line him up his following two starts against the Tigers.
...When Hiromitsu Ochiai was asked about whether or not he had already set a line-up for opening day, he said, "I have an idea, but I really don't want to make any final decisions until I've seen the players practice one last time tomorrow, and this includes the rotation."
...Shinobu Fukuhara will be taking the ball for the Tiger's second game of the season.
...Looks like the Hanshin Tigers are getting tired of waiting for Kevin Mench's bat to wake up. Based on how he does during the first the games of the season against the Swallows, the Tigers might actually consider dismissing him from the club. When asked about a platoon, "Platooning? We're not looking at him as that kind of hitter. Picking and choose which pitchers he can face isn't something we're going to consider."
...Takahiro Arai took 138 practice swings after a grueling work-out taking ground balls at third base on Wednesday.
...Colby Lewis will be the starting pitcher for the road opener against the Yomiuri Giants on Friday. In 5 games last season against the Giants, he went 3-1 with a 2.31 ERA.
NIPPON HAM FIGHTERS
...The Fighters announced on Wednesday that they will be selling 500 standing room only tickets for the home opener against the Rakuten Eagles. The tickets will be available prior to the game and will be priced at 1,500yen for adults and 800yen for children.
...Since Tomohiro Nioka still isn't at 100%, he will most likely appear as a DH or pinch hitter on opening day.
...Retired Track & Field star Nobuhara Asahara will throw out the first pitch during the home opener against the Chiba Lotte Marines. Asahara won a silver medal in the Men's 400m Relay at the Beijing Olympics last year.
...After hitting a foul ball off his left foot during practice on Tuesday, it would appear as though Jose Fernandez will be in the opening day line-up as DH. Other foreigners that have been penciled in: Alex Cabrera at first, Greg LaRocca at third, and Tuffy Rhodes in left.
...Norihiro Nakamura will be giving away special blankets to Fan Club members and Stadium Passport members that attend the first three home games of the season against the Softbank Hawks. Fans 50 and older will be eligible to receive the blanket on the 7th; fans 49 and younger on the 8th; and fans of all ages on the 9th. 1,000 blankets will be handed out on each of the three days.
...Katsuya Nomura needs only 12 more victories to get to 1,500 wins as a manager.
...The seating section behind home plate has been renamed to the Prestige. Pricing for seats in this area start from 390,000 yen (about $3,900).
...Hideaki Wakui tossed about 20 pitches in the bullpen in preparation for his home opener start against the Lotte Marines on Friday.
...A number of changes / upgrades have been made at the Seibu Dome. The home dugout is now located on the third base side, which also happens to be closer to the train station; New food areas have been added near the infield seats; New was turf laid down; And additional upgrades were made to the player facilities for both the home and visiting teams.
...Tsuyoshi Wada will be making the start for the home opener on Friday against the Orix Buffaloes. This will be his second opening in his career and first in four years.
...Nagisa Arakaki did not attend team practice on Thursday because he wasn't feeling well. All signs point to him starting the team's second game of the season, but depending on how he's doing tomorrow, that could change.
...The upper portion of the outfield fences at Yahoo! Dome were re-painted on Thursday. While the original plan was to re-paint the upper areas of the wall orange, it was later decided that using a gradation of dark green to light green would make it easier to track the ball.
Said a ballpark official, "[Depending on the reflection] orange could make it more difficult to track the ball. We confirmed [our plans] with the NPB offices."
...The Yahoo! Dome will offer a variety of seating choices for fans that come to watch games in the Victory Wing.
- Cisco Zone - On the first base side. Pair seats with touch panels that offer more information about the game.
- Nagomi Seats - On the first base side. Watch games on tatami mats.
- Group Seats - On the third base side. Watch games with a group of friends.
- Kids Park - On the third base side. Includes a playground for kids that get bored of watching the game.
...Norichika Aoki practiced with the rest of the team and didn't experience any problems with his back and appeared to be fully recovered from his fever.
Said Aoki, "I'm not tired anymore and I feel I'm ready to start the season in the best condition."
YOKOHAMA BAY STARS
...Shuichi Murata jogged for the first time in 12 days on Wednesday. He also donned the Shonan uniform for the first time in 6 years.
...Tetsuya Utsumi will be starting the second game, of a three game set, against the Hiroshima Carp on the 4th. This could mean that Utsumi's next 5 starts after this are against either the Tigers or Dragons.
...Marc Kroon, who didn't make any exhibition appearances after facing the Swallows on March 24th due to pain in his right middle finger, tossed situational batting practice on the Wednesday -- he faced 5 batters and didn't give up any hard hit balls. Kroon also mixed in a new curve that he's been working on.
...Takahiro Suzuki will be the Giants' number 2 hitter on opening day (he appeared as a lead-off hitter most of the time last season). During batting practice on Wednesday, Suzuki made sure to also work on his bunting skills from both sides of the plate.
Said Suzuki, "The skipper told me to be a 'pesky number 2 hitter.' I have a chance to help open things up for the line-up."
Said Kroon, "I don't feel confident enough about the curve to throw it in a close game, but with a 3-run lead, I might think about giving it a try."
...The Giants will be offering college students an 800yen discount on reserved section C tickets. It seems the discount won't be available for every game and will be limited to purchases made at the ticket booth on the day of the game. A college ID or college book will be required at the time of purchase.
...Masumi Kuwata attended student orientation day at Waseda Universities Toyama Campus on Thursday. He is enrolled in a 1-year course in Sports Business.
...The NPB's "Green Baseball Project" is back again this season, but this time with the goal of playing 9 innings of baseball in under 3 hours (the average length of a 9 inning game last season was 3 hours and 9 minutes).
The NPB has even released a checklist of 9 things players can do to help make games shorter.
- Throw pitches within 15 seconds!
- Run full speed between innings!
- Pitchers should get to the mound quickly!
- Batter's should get into the batter's box as soon as they are announced!
- Never leave the batter's box!
- Keep an extra bat handy in the dugout!
- Don't waste time on unnecessary time outs!
- Don't waste time changing balls!
- Don't argue with umps!
Let's SHOW time