...Assuming everything goes well, Tuffy Rhodes could be back in Japan sometime mid-month.
"The tests have been good," said Rhodes. "I have one more test in a few days and if everything checks out, I could return sometime mid-month. I don't think it'll take me much time to return to the line-up once I get back."
...Richard Gere, in Japan to promote Hachiko: A Dog's Story, and his son tossed out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game between the Eagles and Chiba Lotte Marines at Kleenex Stadium on Thursday.
Bobby Valentine also seen giving Gere a Lotte uniform with his name on it.
...USA vs. Japan Collegiate Championships: in a practice game against Industrial League ENEOS, both Kazuhito Futagami and Yuki Saito struggled -- they each tossed 3 innings and gave up 2 runs.
Saito apparently gave up 2 consecutive hits after 2 outs were in the books -- ENEOS was teeing off the fastballs and off-speed pitches he was leaving up in the zone.
Futagami couldn't get his fastball going, topping out at 142km/h and said that, "I still haven't gotten back to my usual stride yet."
But it wasn't all bad news. Nao Higashihama tossed 2 innings of shut-out ball while giving up 3 hits.
...Asia Series: NPB officials met with Taiwain CPBL officials on Thursday to discuss the possibility of keeping the Asia Series going, despite a sagging market that saw the series end in the red last year.
"In the long term, I think the [Asia Series] is necessary," said NPB Commissioner Ryozo Kato. "The decision made this time around was for the short term. We're not canceling the Asia Series because we want to."
Taiwan has also been suggesting moving the Asia Series outside of Japan, and perhaps into Taiwan.
"We can hold the series at half the cost, and get support from the government," said a CPBL official. "If not this year, then perhaps next year."
The CPBL official also made it known that the Taiwan would like to be included in the Korea / Japan series that has been under discussion.
The NPB will now meet up with the 12 teams of the NPB to discuss further options.