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Around the NPB Horn: Norichika Aoki slowly working his way back

by on Dec.05, 2009 @ 7:51 am, under NPB

Chunichi Dragons

...Masahiro Araki and Hirokazu Ibata were at the Mizuno Advisor Staff Meetings on Friday to check out some new infielder's gloves.

Hanshin Tigers

...Takahiro Arai, Yasumoto Kubo, Keiichi Hirano dropped by Mizuno headquarters on Friday for an Advisor Staff Meeting.

Arai wants to move to a heavier bat next season and is having Mizuno model 3 bats for him: 940, 950, 960 grams.  Up to this point, Arai has been using bats in the 910 - 920 range.  Arai also checked out some new third baseman gloves with tartan webbing.

Kubo put in an order for batting gloves with the Tigers' colors on it.  Kubo was wearing black and red batting gloves this season but will switch to silver and yellow batting gloves next season.

...Takashi Toritani, Shinjiro Hiyama, and Ryo Asai were at Universal Studios Japan on Friday to record a TV special for a program called Jichael Mackson.  The show will air some time in January.

...Yamato was a Human Rights Activist for the day in Amagasaki City on Friday.

Nippon Ham Fighters

...Sho Nakata will be working out in the outfield during the off-season.

"The outfield will become his primary position while he continues to practice at first," said GM Shimada.  "We want to try and create as many opportunities for him to play as possible.  I think the manager has already spoken to him about this plan."

This goes along with the concept the Fighters have been pressing: first base and DH is for foreign players.

Orix Buffaloes

...The Buffaloes re-signed:

Toshiya Tsuji - 15M yen (no change) sponichi

Ryota Aikawa - 16M yen (down 2M yen) sponichi

Rakuten Eagles

...Takeshi Yamasaki and Hisashi Iwakuma were at a recording for a January special of Hama-chan-ga! (浜ちゃんが!).  The show will air on Nippon TV affiliates on January 2nd at 4:15pm.

...Masahiro Tanaka will be heading out for training in Guam later this month.

Softbank Hawks

...Tadashi Settsu might have a new nickname, as given by Commissioner Kato: Settsu Upper.  A play on words for "set-upper," which means setup man in Japanese.

Yakult Swallows

...Norichika Aoki tooks about 28 cuts during an indoor soft-toss BP session on Friday.  It was the first time since his surgery that he swung a bat.  He also took about 10 minutes worth of fielding practice for the first time since his surgery.

Aoki is hoping to do more running next season and will be trying to drop his weight down to about 80-83kg.

...Masanori Ishikawa might get his shot to train with Masahiro Yamamoto during the off-season.  Ishikawa bumped into Yamamoto at the Mizuno Advisor Staff Meetings on Friday and asked if he could join him this off-season for training.

Yomiuri Giants

...Michihiro Ogaswara attended the Mizuno Advisor Staff Meetings on Friday and was asked by his bat maker, Isokazu Kubota, to take as much care of his bats as he does his body.

Tokyo Dome is temperature controlled via an air conditioning system which can lead to a fairly dry environment.  Bats that are stored at Tokyo Dome have been known to dry out a bit (by as much as 20 grams).

...Hayato Sakamoto was presented with the Sponichi Super Play Award on Friday.  Two other players have won the award in the past: Koji Uehara in 1999 and Hideki Matsui in 2002.  He was also given a cash prize of 1M yen.