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Around the NPB Horn: Norichika Aoki to start in left

by on Jul.31, 2009 @ 4:54 am, under NPB

Chiba Lotte Marines

...The Lotte Marines delayed the start of Friday night games by 15 minutes this season so that people getting off from work could make the first pitch. However, they feel it hasn't improved attendance figures as much as they had hoped.

"At this point, that fans don't appear to be all that happy about [the delayed starts]," said Vice Rep Akira Ishikawa. "Extra innings games can also mean that fans miss the last running trains at night. So we're going to listen to the fans think and go from there."

That said, it appears the early Sunday night games (5pm) will be popular amongst salaried workers since they'll be able to get home earlier.

Hanshin Tigers

...Tomoaki Kanemoto was seen practicing his swing in front of a mirror for roughly 40 minutes after last night's 2-0 victory over the Yokohama Bay Stars.

...Team owner Nobuo Minami will be visiting the New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves some time in the middle of August. He was originally set to visit the 2 teams in May, but the Swine Flu grounded him in Japan.

Minami is looking forward to checking out the new Yankee Stadium and is also hoping to study up on the different business strategies employed by MLB teams. He will also be meeting up with the team's US scouts while he's Stateside.

The Yankees, of course, have ties to the Tigers through Kei Igawa. There have also been some rumors about Hideki Matsui returning to Japan next season and potentially playing for the Tigers.

...When Jeff Willliams was asked what his plans were moving forward, he offered a curt response:

Don't know. See ya later.

The team still appears to be heading in the direction of not retaining Williams after the season, but that may change depending on whether or not the two sides can come to an agreement on a lower salary.

Williams was taken off the active roster due to problems with his left shoulder for the second time this season. He is currently going through rehab at Naruohama.

Yakult Swallows

...After suffering from a bit of defensive brain freeze last night against the Hiroshima Carp, Norichika Aoki will be playing left field tonight.

In the 6th inning of last night's game, when Hiroyasu Tanaka let Akihiro Higashide's grounder through, Aoki took too much time backing up the play. That allowed Higashide get to second base. A quicker response may have kept Higashide at first, keeping the chance for a double play intact when the next batter grounded out to second.

Yokohama Bay Stars

...Yokohama fans are apparently getting fed up with their team. As the players were boarding their bus last night after getting shut out by the Tigers for the second straight night, fans shouted out, "You call yourselves pros?!"

Yomiuri Giants

...Hisanori Takahashi earned his international FA rights on Wednesday after logging his 9th full year of being on an Ichi-gun roster.

...Tatsunori Hara has some fairly critical words for Shun Tono's performance against the Chunichi Dragons last night.

We've given Tono a lot of chances to gain experience so he really needs to stop playing in the "sandbox." He keeps on making the same kinds of mistakes.