Hiromitsu Ochiai likes what he sees in Maximo Nelson and expects to see big things from him next year.
"In some ways, you could say that I have high hopes for Nelson next year," said Ochiai. "A lot has to do with the new ball. Even though there isn't a huge difference in the balls, he may be the one pitcher on our team that might benefit from the change."
Nelson's index finger is 9cm and middle finger is 10cm, both 2-3cm longer than the average Japanese pitcher. Ochiai is probably guessing that 2-3cm difference will give Nelson the advantage of being able to adjust a lot more quickly than the others.
And speaking of Nelson, it seems the Dragons also signed him to a 3-year deal this winter, even though they announced it was a 1-year deal. Actually, more specifically, Nelson has options he can exercise for the 2012 and 2013 seasons, should he decide he wants to stay. It appears the Dragons gave Nelson the "multi-year" deal after finding out that a number of MLB teams were beginning to show an interest in the 28-year-old.
Masahiro Yamamoto seems to like the new regulation NPB ball, although he jokingly said it he have a hard time getting a good grip on the ball in the early spring because of how slippery it is.