...Kevin Mench played in an intramural game at Ni-gun on the 24th and went 1-for-3; he also stole a base. It was the first time he played in any sort of game at any level since May 16th. Mench is slated to start a Ni-gun game on the 26th against Chunichi.
...Craig Brazell is scheduled to arrive in Japan on the 27th. The Tigers are hoping to have him under contract and ready to go by June 2nd (in a game that Masahiro Tanaka could be starting), just in time for an away series against the Eagles.
If Brazell does join the team, he will likely play first, but the outfield could also be a possibility. And it would seem as though he'll be hitting out of the 6 hole.
Some comments from Brazell:
On joining the Tigers...
Since I'm still in the middle of negotiations, I can't really comment on that. What I can say is that ever since leaving Japan last year, all I've wanted to do was come back and play over here again.
Any good memories of Japan?
I had the chance to play with Uehara during Spring Training with the Orioles. He actually came up to me and said that he remembered me hitting a home run off him. He has a really great memory.
And you remembered that home run as well?
Of course. It was on the second pitch. I nailed a fork to center for a home run. And I think he was pretty ticked about me hitting his fork so the next time I was at bat, he came right back with another fork. I hit that one as well... For a double.
On putting up pretty good numbers in your first year in Japan...
My agent told me that I should try everything and sort go with what's happening around me. And so I tried to take in all things Japan.
Did you ever feel uncomfortable?
A friend told me to watch Mr. Baseball, so I did. I think it helped me with a few things. I just figured I needed to go with the flow.
How about eating?
I love yaki niku. I also like the stir fry dishes (teppan yaki). I can't forget the taste of Kobe beef. I really like Yoshinoya. Kyudon is very tasty. And yaki tori! I didn't even think there would be these kinds of things to eat.
Of course, there are differences in the game...
I definitely felt that the style is a different. Over here, pitchers tend to challenge hitters. But in Japan, pitchers tend to nibble and use the entire strike zone. At first it felt like the pitchers weren't even giving me a chance to hit.
And yet you still put a pretty good numbers in April...
Yeah. But I had a bad May. The pitchers started making adjustments. But then June was good... I won the MVP that month. That's when I felt like I had to keep making adjustments in order to stay on top of my game.
Your favorite ballpark.
I really enjoyed the Seibu Dome. In the Central League, I liked the Tokyo Dome and Koshien. I was really surprised by how passionate the fans were at Koshien. Their cheering voices were so load. And the jet balloons were amazing. Standing at first, I remember thinking, are 100,000 jet balloons really going to be released? The first time I saw them, I was speechless.
Did you notice any differences of play during the inter-league games?
Yeah, I think I do remember thinking that there was a difference in the pitching styles between the two leagues. I think Central League pitchers tried to challenge batters more.
So the Central League is closer to the Majors?
It's just my opinion, but yeah. I think the pitching style in the Central League is closer to the Majors.
You said you like meat, but what didn't you like about Japanese food?
Sushi. I tried it a number of times, but I still don't like it. Kataoka, Nakajima, Hosokawa, and Ishii took me to a number of different places but I just couldn't get myself to like it.
Were you sad when you left Japan?
The fans in Japan are really great... Everyone was really nice and supportive. I took the train to the stadium and people came up to me and said hi. That was pretty cool.
Did you wife enjoy Japan?
I think she enjoyed Japan too. We talked another of time about coming back to visit. As long as she doesn't go to Ginza, I'll be happy.
You have a child coming...
Yes. The baby is supposed to come in September. It's our first kid and we know it's going to be a boy.
If your wife likes Japan, then you probably won't have any difficulties coming over here...
My wife is always very supportive of me. Actually, I think she was sort of hoping I'd get another chance to play in Japan. So there's definitely no problem there. Playing in a foreign country, I think that really helped strengthen our relationship.
On your experiences playing in an independent league...
A lot of the players here are still quite young and are still in the process of learning. Hopefully some of those players were able to learn a thing or two from me. If you play hard, someone is going notice and give you a chance. Getting a call from the NPB wasn't just a good thing for me, it was also a good thing for the players because it can give them hope.
...With 8 years of service in the books, Yoshikazu Kura earned his national free agent rights on the 25th.
...Katsuhiro Nagakawa recorded his 139th save on the 24th against the Chunichi Dragons. He now holds the record for the most number of saves in team history.
...Satoshi Komatsu was demoted to Ni-gun on the 25th due to poor performance. In 7 starts, Komatsu went 0-5 with a 9.72 ERA.
...Takeya Nakamura is currently on pace to hit 55.6 home runs.
YOKOHAMA BAY STARS
...In what was supposed to be just a one pitch affair, Jose Canseco expanded the ceremonial first pitch into nine. He apparently wanted to hit a home run off Kazuhiro Sasaki to show the crowd that he still had his power, but instead only managed 2 clean "hits."
...Eri Yoshida tossed situational batting practice on the 25th to 8 different batters. She focused primarily on throwing her curve and surrendered 4 hits and struck out 1.
It was the first time she took the mound since injuring her shoulder on March 27th.
...The Mie Three Arrows held a press conference to officially announce that Hiromu Matsuoka will be the manager of the team in its first year next season.