Around the NPB Horn: Fighters want Sledge to return; Eagles hope Aoyama can become their 4th starter
...Akinobu Mayumi is beginning to feel that the team is finally understanding just how important the bunt it.
"It looks like it's starting to stink in with the players. With all the help they're getting from the coaches and the practices we're having every day, they're bound to get better," said Mayumi.
He continued, "It's all about having an awareness [of the bunt]. If we practice bunting all the time, it'll be much easier for the players to drop one down during a game. That's how you increase the percentages for success."
...Mayumi is spending time with Kodai Sakurai during Fall camp. Kodai will likely bat 8th in the line-up next season.
"If Sakurai can learn how to hit both lefties and righties. Right now, if there's lefty on the roster, I'd probably start him [over Sakurai] against right-handed pitching. [Sakura] needs to go out there and prove he can hit righties for a living," said Mayumi.
As of now, Takahiro Arai could be batting 6th, followed by Craig Brazell and then Sakurai.
...Atsushi Fujimoto may be leaning toward exercising his FA option. While Fujimoto loves the Tigers, he also would like to see more playing time. If he stays with the Tigers, he'll likely be used off the bench.
...Norihiro Akahoshi continues to work out at Naruohama. He played some catch and did some running on Thursday.
...Ken Nishimura rejoined the team at Fall camp on Thursday after taking part in the Arizona Fall League. He tossed a 71-pitch bullpen session and mixed in 2 new change-ups he learned while in the States.
Nishimura finished his AFL campaign with a 5.68 ERA over 4 games.
Nippon Ham Fighters
...The Fighters would like Terrmel Sledge to return next season, but don't intend to overpay in order to keep him.
Club president Shimada said, "Of course we'd love him to stay. But we can't negotiated right now. ... We aren't going to play any money games. We're interested in cost performance and won't overpay."
...The Eagles are making some modifications to their uniforms. Someone involved with the team said, "There are some minor changes being made to the away uniforms, and the third uniform worn during Inter-league play will be completely changed."
The new uniforms will likely be revealed at the same time the club announces the signings of their recently drafted players in December.
...The Eagles are apparently looking to Koji Aoyama to be their 4th pitcher in the rotation next season. They feel he could have a break-out year just like Satoshi Nagai has this past season.
...Akinobu Okada wants to develop a star player that the fans will want to rally around.
...Fall camp captain Hiroyasu Tanaka is trying to lead by example. On the first day of Fall camp (10/5), Tanaka stayed behind an extra hour for special fielding practice. He also took 700 swings of the bat in an attempt to fulfill his manager's request of 10,000 swings over the course of Fall camp.
...Norichika Aoki will be appearing in a dinner talk show with former Lotte pitcher and Tomohiro Kuroki. The dinner talk show is schedule for the 21st at MODAPOLITICA Omotesando.