Hiroki Kokubo took off for Arizona out of Narita airport today and will return to Japan on the 27th. Kokubo will be working out alone and will be focusing on his lower body and shoulders during his training in the US.
Toshiya Sugiuchi took part in the a talk event on Monday and told fans that he wanted to lower his pitch count by throwing fewer waste pitches and focusing on 3-pitch strikeouts.
"Depending on the time and place, I'd like to avoid throwing as many waste pitches as possible," said Sugiuchi. "I'd like to try and keep it to three pitches. Last year I averaged about 17 pitches an inning. I'd like to try and lower that to 15. As a starter, I can throw a complete game in around 120 pitches, but I'd like to drop that [total] a little."
He continued, "In Japanese pro yakyu, [pitchers] tend to run the count to 1-2. But if I think 3 pitches, that might put me at an advantage and will also save on stamina. I'll also tell the catcher about wanting to keep at bats to 3 pitches."
Sugiuchi also mentioned that he hoped to win at least 17 games by becoming more efficient on the mound.
Toru Hosokawa offered the following thoughts on catching (Nikkan Sports via the Softbank Hawks' official site):
I have a lot of confidence in my catching abilities. That's my strength. I learned a lot from [Tsutomu] Ito and coach [Yukihiro] Ueda. "When Hosokawa's behind the plate, everyone can rest easy and the opponents will need to stay on their toes." That's the type of catcher I want to continue being.
Of course, I'll do research on batters. But even more important than the data is how the players are feeling that day. Like, what is the batter thinking right now. Or, maybe the pitcher isn't feeling quite as confident in himself [right now]. You need to keep watching their expressions and decide on pitch patterns based on what you see [as well]. There really is no theory behind it.
Human feelings can be difficult. We're all delicate. You figure you're saying something nice to a teammate, but maybe he takes it the wrong way. I've experienced stuff like that a lot. So more than figuring out which pitches to signal, it's more important to know the pitcher's personality. And for the Hawks, other pitchers need to step up behind [Tsuyoshi] Wada and [Toshiya] Sugiuchi. I've heard that the other pitchers are having a hard time winning. I just want to hurry up and become just another member of the team.