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Around the NPB Horn: Makoto Imaoka more or less a Lotte?

by on Dec.22, 2009 @ 12:21 pm, under NPB

Chiba Lotte Marines

...The Marines are planning on holding tryouts for foreign players during Spring camp.  The club is already looking into players from the US, Latin America, and Taiwan.

Makoto Imaoka will also be taking a tryout during Spring camp.  And if he makes the club, which he likely will it seems, he could get Bobby Valentine's old number, 2.  If he makes the club, his salary will also likely take a huge hit -- it could be as low as 15M yen next season (down from 200M yen).

Chunchi Dragons

...The Dragons have received engagement notices from three couples that met via the Dragons' Chunichi Dragons de Konkatsu event held on 9/19.

For the event, the Dragons received 150,000 submissions for 60 spots (30 men, 30 women) and 14 couples ended up emerging.  Of those 14 couples, 3 are now engaged.

The Dragons are now thinking about implementing more Konkatsu events next season.

...Hirokazu Ibata will be honeymooning in Los Angeles from 12/21 to 21/29.

Hanshin Tigers

...Speaking at a Christmas Party event on Monday, Yuya Ando told fans that he'd perm (パンチパーマ) his hair if he didn't win more than 9 games next season.

Ando made a promise last season to shave his head if he finished the season with fewer than 9 wins.  He won 8 games this past season and ended up having to shave his head.

...Wei-Chu Lin will be heading back to Taiwan some time on the 25th or 26th and will continue his training there.  Taiwan is a little warmer than Japan and is also the winter home for a number of Taiwanese players that are play in the US minor leagues.

Lin will be returning to Japan some time after January 10th.

...Kazuya Tsutsui is planning on tweaking his delivery from the set position during the off-season.  There are a number of issues that were brought to his attention during the past season, like being able to read his grip on the ball from second and Kazuki Fukuchi managing to steal consecutive bases off of him during a game on August 28th.

...The Tigers are planning on putting up relief plaques for the three players that have had their numbers retired by the team: Fumio Fujimura #10, Minoru Murayama #11, Yoshio Yoshida #23.

Once renovation construction ends, the relief plaques will be installed on the western side of the stadium, close to where Ikoi-no mori (いこいの森) is currently located.  The Tigers are apparently trying to build their own version of Monument Park.

...In addition to putting in new grass at Koshien Stadium, there are also plans to improve drainage of the infield.  That means digging further down into the infield and re-laying the cobblestone / gravel.  While I'm not sure if Koshien Stadium uses the same system, you can check out this blog for an idea of how MLB infield drainage works.

Nippon Ham Fighters

...Depending on how Yu Darvish enters Spring camp, the Fighters may put a limit on the number forkballs, cutters, and sliders he throws next season because of the amount of strain they put on the index finger.  Much will depend on how that finger is feeling at the start of the season next year.  (That could also mean more curveballs and change-ups for Darvish.)

...Atsunori Inaba bumped into former Seibu Lion Orestes Destrade at Narita airport when he returned from the team trip to Hawaii.  Destrade is currently in Japan for an appearance in a TV show.

...Shinji Takahashi went on the team's trip to Hawaii with his family.  But he still made time to get some training in, like jogging around the vicinity of the hotel, doing dashes at parks, and weight lifting.

...Masataka Nashida plans on giving special attention to Shota Ono next year.  He wants Ono to catch a variety of pitchers during Spring camp and would like him to compete with Shinya Tsuruoka.

Orix Buffaloes

...Aarom Baldiris' contract will be worth 20M yen plus incentives next year.  Akinobu Okada is still apparently high on Baldiris and feels he could win a Golden Glove at third.

Rakuten Eagles

...Tatsuya Shiokawa is going to try to convince Orix Buffalo Tomotaka Sakaguchi to shave his mustache.

Softbank Hawks

...Nobuhiko Matsunaka will be working with strength coach Kazuhiko Tomooka.  Tomooka once worked as a strength coach for the Washington Nationals.  Matsunaka also did some running on artificial turf (Yahoo Dome) for the first time since he had surgery on his right knee in October and didn't experience any difficulties.

Yakult Swallows

...Shingo Kawabata and his younger sister, Yuki Kawabata, are set to become the first brother and sister pair to play baseball professionally.  Yuki was drafted by the Kyoto Asto Dreams of the Girls Pro Baseball League on Monday.

...Yuhei Takai continues to work on his conversion from pitcher to outfielder.  He's been trying to swing the bat at least 1,000 times a day.  On Monday, he took about 600 pitches in the batting cages.  Takai will be using an Ichiro Suzuki model outfielder's glove and the same bat Norichika Aoki uses.

...Yoshinori Sato had blister problems on his right hand this past season.  Seems he also had blister problems on his right foot as well.  And according to Mizuno, that was because his right foot was about .25-cm longer than his right foot.  His news cleats now take that into account and should help keep Sato from getting any more blisters on his right foot.  Mizuno also increased the padding near the pinky-toe in his left cleat because a lot of Sato's weight rides on the outer portion of his left foot when he makes his stride.

...The Swallows have put scout Kenji Miyamoto in charge of Ikusei development next season.  The Swallows are working on expanding their scouting department to also include Ikusei development.

Yokohama Bay Stars

...During a TV recording for a program called Tokyo Friend Park 2 on Monday, Naoyuki Shimizu donned a uniform with the number 17 on it for the first time since joining the Bay Stars.

Yomiuri Giants

...Tatsunori Hara would like to see his starters pitch deeper into games next season.  He's hoping starters will at least go 6 innings per start.  Ideally, he'd like to see them getting closer to 8 innings.

...Shigeyuki Furuki has secured a tire belonging to a 4-ton truck.  He plans on pushing this tire around the field, at least once, as part of his training during the off-season.  It's all part of his plan to help him strengthen his lower body.

...Taishi Ohta was happy to hear that Hideki Matsui will continue to wear the number 55.  Ohta is also working on trying to build up a body that won't easily wear down over the course of a season -- he lost about 5-kg during the season but would like to try to keep his weight at a steady 90-kg.

...Hayato Sakamoto swung a bat for the first time in about a month on Monday (he took about 50 cuts in the batting cages).  Lately, Sakamoto has been spending quite  a bit of time at various baseball events and hasn't had much time to relax.  He actually had a slight fever on Monday but still wanted to get some practice in.