Yuki Saito will have a chance to meet Sadaharu Oh (first time since turning pro) today at a Waseda University Alumni gathering. ... If Saito makes it to Ichi-gun, he could get Yu Darvish's old room (currently open) in the Ichi-gun dorms in Sapporo. ... The Fighters are not making Saito's current dorm room public as a security precaution. The third floor room shown to reporters isn't the actual room Saito will be living in. It also doesn't seem to be the room on the fourth floor (#404) that Darvish used to use (and still apparently does according to a tweet Darvish made).
At around 2:40pm, about 300 fans were seen waiting to catch a glimpse of Saito moving into Fighters' Ni-gun dorm on Tuesday. Media crew from newspapers, TV stations, and magazines -- a total 31 outlets and 200 media personnel were gathered in front of the dorm. 18 TV cameras were set up. Two security guards were on-hand.
Saito moved in with one bag and 5 cardboard boxes. He didn't bring any Waseda mementos with him.
Sanspo has comments taken from Saito yesterday:
What are your thoughts on moving in?
It's new. I was living in the Waseda dorms for a long time, so this is a complete fresh start for me. That this is going to be my first year as a pro, that's starting to sink in.
What's your room like?
I saw my room the last time I was here. It's a very nice / clean room.
Did you bring anything special with you?
Prospects' training camp begins on the 12th...
There's still time until spring camp so I just want to take my time and not get hurt. This will be my first year as a pro baseball player. I want to do my best.
I just want to do my best to make the Ichi-gun roster.
Anything for the Hokkaido fans?
A lot of fans came to see me again today. I want to go back to Hokkaido and show the fans how hard I'm working.
What kind of practice did you do at the end of last year?
2010 was a busy year for me, so I just wanted to rest. So I took it easy while making sure to move my body regularly.
Ichiro Suzuki had a lot of good things to say about you...
I was extremely happy to hear about the things Ichiro said about me.
Your first dream [of the year]?
I think I've seen it, but I don't remember it.
Which is stronger: uncertainties or expectations?
Uncertainties. I don't know anything so I want to do things very carefully.
Your impressions of Kamagaya.
There's a lot of nature [here] and the air is clean. I should be able to focus on practicing here.
(General Q&A period ends here. From here, every media outlet tries to grab a chance at asking him a question.)
I woke up at around 7am this morning. I left my home at around 11 am.
The amount you moved in with?
I think it's a normal amount. I've only brought the essentials. About 5 cardboard boxes.
Did you bring any Waseda mementos?
I left all of them at home.
Did you go to Hatsumode?
You're wearing a gray suit...
No reason [for picking this particular suit], but there were a lot of dark blue / navy blue suits last year.
Comments carried by Nikkan Sports, but not Sanspo:
Your former mates [Tatsuya] Oishi and [Yuya] Fukui are following the same path...
I watched the reports of their training on TV. While I don't want to be out by those two, I also want to walk down this path working hard along side of them.
Did you receive any words from your Waseda manager?
I spoke to him on the phone. He told me to make sure I gave it my best.
How about your parents?
I did speak to them, but nothing of particular importance.
Sponichi notes that 200 fans and 50 media personnel showed up for Yu Darvish (1/10/2005). For Sho Nakata, it was about 50 fans and 50 media personnel. They also mention that fans that wanted to catch a glimpse of Saito moving in started showing up around 8am. By 11 there were about 100. And then by the time Saito arrived, there were about 300.
Sanspo notes that about 2,000 fans were in the stands; Nikkan Sports places the figure at 2,500. There was also apparently a traffic jam that measured about 2km on the road near the stadium in the morning.
There were 16 security guards in the stadium during today's training session.
Masataka Nashida told reporters that Saito won't be starting at Ichi-gun right away. He also said the following comments:
...impression of Saito - He's got a much bigger lower body that I anticipated.
...thoughts on Saito running - He's got a forward tilt and his running posture is stable.
...thoughts on Saito throwing - Looks like he was getting a good feel of things will using his legs.
...in general - I was really surprised as the number of fans and media personnel.
Sponichi is also reporting that the Fighters did decide on starting Saito at Ichi-gun camp during a staff meeting today.
Nikkan Sports is posting updates for Saito's day today. Here's what's been posted so far (and I'll continue to update this throughout the day):
7:30am - media begins to gather. TV cameras are getting ready for their live broadcasts.
8:00am - the press room at the stadium is packed.
9:53am - Saito appears. He walks towards the stadium with reporters in tow. He's wearing a dark blue windbreaker, gray training clothes, and an orange neck warmer. His shoes are orange. The fans shout, "He's coming, he's coming!" and "Yu-chan!"
10:00am - Warm-ups begin. He starts running around the field with the other players. About 100 fans are already on hand. Infield seats are opened up, their numbers grow as they watch Saito and the other rookies.
10:07am - Running ends. Calisthenics begin.
10:16am - Calisthenics plus stretches. Yu-chan is in the front of the pack and has a strong aura about him. The fans increase, the infield stands and the areas near the left and right field areas are packed.
10:25am - Nashida appears and walks out in front of the dugout to watch the rookies.
10:36am - Full body exercises. Saito takes off his neck warmer.
10:50am - Break. Saito drinks some water.
10:55am - Some more stretching to loosen up the body.
11:03am - Stretches end. Running near the outfield fence begins. Saito is at the front again -- he's brimming with energy.
11:15am - Running ends. Change of clothes.
11:20am - Back on field. Shaking hands with Nashida. Players begin playing catch. Saito's first pro throw! Playing catch at close range at first, and then slowly moving out to about 30 meters.
11:40am - The end of playing catch.
11:45am - Players move indoors to continue their training (fielding). Loud voices and quick movements.
12:00pm - End of fielding practice. Move to the field in preparation for lunch. The fans shout out "Yu-chan!" Saito acknowledges the call with a slight bow.
12:23pm - Reporters surround Saito on the field to ask him questions. Fans continue to call out to him. Saito tells reports practice felt great.
2:10pm - Practice was supposedly over, but Saito emerged from the dorm and returned to the ground in order to do some running along the outfield fence.
2:30pm - Saito finishes his running and returns to the dorm.
Your thoughts on the first day of practice...
I've been moving my body [during the winter break] but in terms of being the first day, it felt great. And even though everyone worked out together, it was my own practice. I figured I would do as I needed to do. I focused on my balance during catch.
Did you think the training menu was a bit light?
I think it'll get harder little by little. Today was easy. I want to work on building up a strong body that can withstand a full season.
Will you pitch in the bullpen in January?
I'd like to if I can. I don't know if I'll be 100% for spring camp, but I'll be in much better shape than I'm in now.
Masataka Nashida called over to you...
It was just a greeting. Like "have a good practice." I want to get to Ichi-gun so I need to show the manager I'm ready.
Your thoughts on all the fans that came.
All these fans are here today because I've turned pro. I'm grateful. I'm very happy, but I've only scratched the surface. I want to hurry up and show them what I can do at Ichi-gun.
How's dorm life?
I've only eaten breakfast. It was good. And my room is comfortable. It's a one person room so it's quiet and I can get a good night's sleep.
Yesterday you spoke about being uncertain...
Now that my first day is under my belt, I feel ready to get going.
Nikkan Sports is carrying additional comments not picked up by Sanspo:
You're wearing orange shoes. Any particular reason?
Nashida mentions not rushing you...
I want to take my time. There's a different between the pros and college.
What did you eat for breakfast?
Rice and miso soup.
Sausages, eggs... Your regular breakfast.
A reporter mistook Masahiro Inui (3rd round) for you when the rookies started coming out of the dorms...
That's what I'm hearing. Do we look that much alike?
Did you read today's papers?
You're writing a lot about me. That makes me happy.
(Note: it was apparently a TBS reporter that made the mistake, as revealed on N-suta).