This post will be updated with information as it becomes available so keep checking back if you have any interest in Yuki Saito.
Saito's parents were at the stadium yesterday. They watched on from a room reserved for team personnel.
Saito threw the ball around about 59 times during a round of catch yesterday using about 50-60% of his strength.
At 10am yesterday, there were about 500 people lined up outside of the stadium (a line that stretched out about 200 meters). The stadium parking lot (250 car limit) was full by 10am. And the Kamagaya police had to be called in after a traffic jam developed near the stadium. NHK sent a helicopter to provide coverage from the air.
Seems Ikuhiro Kiyota might be a little jealous of all the attention Saito is getting. Kamagaya is Kiyota's hometown and he even received a Kamagaya sports award for his performance last year, but never got this much attention.
"I'm sure this must be difficult for him, but it's his destiny. I'd like him to leave his mark in the [Pro Yakyu history books]."
While perhaps not directly related, All Nippon Airways (ANA) has put together a Nippon Ham Fighters Okinawa Camp Package Tour (available only to ANA Mileage Club members) that also comes with an original spring camp gift from the Fighters and a ticket to a Fighters game at Tokyo Dome on 3/29. An ANA PR rep told reporters that tour packages to Hokkaido have been selling really well this year and that it was probably because of Saito.
An explanation of why Saito wore an orange neck warmer was made during Fuji TV's Shiritagari! (知りたがり!) this morning. According to their report (it was actually a report made by another station that was picked up by the show), there were three reasons:
Saito wanted to do something different different
There was no specific reason why he chose the color orange
He only realized later on that he picked a Giants' team color and felt bad
According to reports on TV, a number of Mizuno stores were already selling the entire get-up Saito was wearing yesterday (neck-warmer, the gray training suit, and the orange shoes). Seems the shoes are selling fairly well.
The Fighters have decided that they will be selling Saito merchandise during the team's Rookie Welcoming Ceremony on the 16th.
Sponichi has posted some comments taken from Saito yesterday:
What did you think about pro-level practice?
It's basically the same [as college]. Even at college I thought about what I needed to do. Even though this training involves other players, I want to consider each exercise one by one and think of how I can do them to help me. I think the pace will increase over time.
What about the large number of fans?
That I've finally turned pro. I am grateful to see so many fans here on the first day. And the season hasn't even started yet.
Will you pitch in the bullpen?
If I can, I'd like to. I'd like to also shoot for the first day of spring camp as well.
Your thoughts on spring camp.
There's a little less than a month, so I want to strengthen my lower body and make sure I don't get hurt.
Will you drink tonight?
No. I still have practice tomorrow and I want to go to sleep early.
Sponichi also has their own version of Saito's first day:
7:00am - Wake-up
7:45am - Breakfast. Buffet style in the dorm cafeteria -- rice, miso soup, sausages, eggs, salad, etc.
8:45am - A special lecture is given in the dorm.
9:52am - Leave the dorm. Wearing orange neck warmer and shoes. Media surrounds Saito. Saito says he was able to wake up refreshed.
10:00am - Warm-ups begin. Running alongside Masahiro Inui (3rd round). Stadium parking lot is full (about 300 spaces).
10:08am - Running ends. Lower body stretches begin.
10:18am - The kids in the stands call out "Yu-chan" to which Saito responds by waving his hand.
10:28am - Nashida appears on the field. He reflects at how things were much quieter back in his time.
10:51am - Trunk exercises begin.
11:05am - Running / walking along the outfield fence - back and forth four times.
11:15am - Players retreat to the locker room on the third base side to change their clothes.
11:20am - Players return to the field with their gloves. Saito shakes hands with Nashida.
11:25am - Saito begins to play catch with Inui. A stadium announcement reminding fans that they should be parked along the side of the road. Saito throws the ball around 59 times and catch ends. Players move to the indoor facilities.
11:45am - Fielding practice begins.
11:55am - Players move to the stadium cafeteria for lunch. Saito eats rice balls and udon.
12:23pm - Saito returns to the field and answers questions from the media.
12:35pm - Q&A with media ends. Players return to dorms.
1:10pm - Weight training begins. He goes through 8 different types.
2:10pm - Saito returns to the field with Inui and Yodai Enoshita (4th round) to do some more running along the outfield fence (cooling down).
2:30pm - Running ends. Players return to dorm.
3:05pm - Saito gets into a taxi headed to the location where the Waseda Alumni gather is taking place.
4:00pm - Saito arrives.
6:00pm - Saito answers questions from the media.
6:15pm - Q&A with media ends.
6:30pm - Waseda Alumni gathering begins.
8:40pm - Waseda Alumni gathering ends. Saito leaves for the dorms.
Nikkan Sports is once again providing updates of Saito's day:
9:50am - Saito appears. He's wearing a black training suit. He's wearing orange shoes again. He also has a backpack. Lot's of media and more than 50 fans.
9:55am - Warm-ups begin. The infield stands open up. Seats begin to fill. Fans start to fill out the areas out beyond the outfield walls.
10:30am - Messages from fans are posted near the stadium shops. Lots of messages for Saito, but there are also a lot of messages for the other 5 draft prospects.
10:40am - Sprints begin. He keeps his body low with big strides. Very powerful movement. The team mascot (Cubby) appears in the stands. He's also very popular amongst the fans.
11:20am - Players begin playing catch. Saito's partner is Masahiro Inui (3rd round).
11:30am - Catch ends. Saito threw mostly fastball. His last two were a curve and slider.
11:35am - Players move indoors in order to take grounders. Saito uses a black glove.
11:40am - Practice for fielding high choppers on a short hop begins. Saito has a tough time getting the timing down and smirks a bit. Fielding practice ends.
11:50am - Players move to the stadium for lunch. When asked about his new black glove, Saito says he still needs to break it in.
12:40pm - 2,000 fans are in attendance.
1:00pm - Players return to dorm for weight training.
2:30pm - Weight training ends.
2:25pm - Players return to the stadium for some more running (cooling down). Fans shout, "Yu-chan." He's now wearing sunglasses; he looks good in them.
2:45pm - Running ends. Is the second day of training over? No, he grabs a glove and begins playing catch with Inui. The distance between the two slow grows. More than catch, it seems like they're pitching to each other. Saito is throwing pitches like his curve, slider, change.
3:00pm - Playing catch ends. Running begins.
3:05pm - Running ends. 2nd day of practice ends.
3:15pm - Q&A with media ends. Saito smiles and says things are moving along as planned.