Yuki Saito (1st round) could be used as both a starter and a reliever this year.
Said Masataka Nashida, "Of course [we're thinking of him] as a starter. We have [Yu] Darvish, Masaru Takeda, and [Bobby] Keppel for the first three spots, the rest of the spots are up for grabs. But during inter-league play where there are fewer games, I'm not sure if he'll become a reliever during that time or not."
Saito apparently told reporters that his ideal marriage partner would be a woman that acted like a catcher.
"I've been a pitcher ever since I was a kid so good or bad, I tend to be selfish," said Saito. "My ideal partner would be someone that can accept that, so I guess someone that has a personality like a catcher."
He also told reporters that his dream was to play until he was 50 and that he wanted to quit only when he found he wasn't enjoying baseball anymore.
Sanspo asked fortune-teller Irene to read Saito's fortune for the 2011 season. According to her, Saito will have luck on his side through to 7/9/2011, but will take a slight hit on luck thereafter. Irene suggests that Saito take it easy after 7/9. She adds that Saito should be careful of injuries between 6/22 and 8/10 when accidents will be more prone to happen. And Irene also says that love could be in the air for Saito during the summer months.
According to Sponichi, Saito has help increased Nippon Ham stock by more than 10% over a span of about 2 months (from 925yen before the draft to 1,063yen on the 12/28) and tour packages to Okinawa have quadrupled.
Sanspo managed to get an interview with Saito. Below is my English translation:
What are your thoughts on your first year?
More than the expectations, I'm just really nervous. I'm realistically thinking about what it's like to be a professional baseball player.
This isn't just for my first year, but I really want to become a player the fans love. In terms of numbers, I'm trying not to set any.
Why is that?
If I do, I'd be putting pressure on myself and right now, I have no idea what I'm capable of as a professional player. First thing is to make the Ichi-gun roster. After that, I'll begin to think of what I'm capable of doing.
What did you mean when you said you also wanted to be an entertainer even though you're turning pro?
Professionals have a variety of images. Entertainment is like that last Waseda - Keio game. All my hard work resulted in a championship game (11/3/2010). Pro yakyu exists because of the fans. It's the same with high school baseball. It's all about showing your hard-working side to the fans and allowing them to enjoy that. It's also a lot more interesting for me as well.
Can you imagine what you'll be like in 10 years?
I've mentioned wanting to play until I was 50, but honestly, I can't imagine what kind of pitcher I'll be like. I can't even imagine what things will be like this year. I was an amateur [player up to now] so I have no idea what it's like to play in the pros.
What do you think were the good points about selecting college (over the pros)?
I think the biggest thing was being able to meet people outside [of baseball]. That was a really great experience. I made friends outside of the baseball club and I was able to devote some time to things other than baseball. In that sense, I think I was also able to take breaks away from baseball.
What are your thoughts about other players your age that decided to turn pro?
These 4 years may have been a detour, but I don't think it was a waste. I can understand comparing me to other pro players my age, but more than that, I think the issue is how hard I'll be able to push myself as a professional player.
What are your thoughts on the third WBC that takes place in 2013?
Being selected for that is a big honor. And Nippon Ham does have [Yu] Darvish, but I first need to put up results. If I can't do that, then I have no right to say that I want to be on that team.
What are the things you need to work on?
I need to polish my fastball more. Professional players have more experience and knowledge. I have no idea what I need to do in terms of my skill / abilities.
Which player would you like to work towards becoming?
I really look up to [Daisuke] Matsuzaka. My image of him winning in high school (Koshien) is really strong. But, Nippon Ham also has Darvish. He'll be the easiest to study, since he'll be close by.
What's your image of Darvish?
He really loves baseball. In reading his blog, I get the feeling he's a student of the game.
Did Darvish throwing a one-seamer have any effect on you?
Yes. I even tried throwing it.
What's your image of Hokkaido?
I haven't met one bad person from Hokkaido. Hokkaido is really big so I have this image that there are a lot of people living there.
Other than Sapporo Dome, what other parks would you like to pitch in?
Jingu Stadium. I'd like to go back there and show them the pro version of Yuki Saito. I'd also like to pitch at Koshien Stadium.
What kind of car do you want to drive as a pro?
It's Hokkaido, so a 4WD car that handles the snow well. Perhaps a Subaru (there's a Subaru plant in his hometown).
Have you ever had a dream about baseball?
I don't really dream about baseball that much.