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Various News and Notes from Around the League: January 16, 2011

by on Jan.16, 2011 @ 10:50 pm, under NPB

Chunichi Dragons

A 60-year-old man snuck into the Dragons' player's club at Nagoya Stadium on Saturday under the guise that he was a director from NHK.  When that was discovered to be untrue, the man tried to run, but was was flagged down.  He dropped to his knees to beg for forgiveness (dogeza), and in doing so, two baseballs fell out of his pocket.  As official were trying to figure out what to do next, the man got up and started running again, this time getting away.  A Dragons' official told reporters that since the baseballs were recovered, the team saw no need to file a report with the police.  But on that note, the Dragons also increased security and started handing out passes to media officials.

Masahiko Morino, Kazuki Yoshimi, Akifumi Takahashi, and Masahiro Araki are part of the 50 that are participating in the general player's training camp at Nagoya Stadium.  Incidentally, there are 9 more players participating in camp this year, over last year.

Morino and about 29 other people (staff member, players, coaches) visited Naritasan Temple in Inuyama, Aichi today to pray for a successful season.

Hitoki Iwase doesn't plan on throwing any off-speed pitches until he's had a chance to work on his fastball first.  Said Iwase, "I'm not going to try anything new this year.  I need to work on my fastball.  I used to always start messing around with off-speed pitches.  But I don't want to think about new pitches [this year].  At the risk of not being able to work on other pitches, I want to work on my fastball until I'm satisfied.  Even at spring camp, I don't intend to throw any off-speed pitches until I'm satisfied."  He added, "Over the last few seasons, my feel for where batted balls land has changed.  Pitches that were tricking batters aren't tricking them anymore.  More than speed, it's about quality.  It's a feeling that I'm trying to regain."

Hiroshima Carp

Kenta Kurihara is thinking about hiring a personal trainer this year in the hopes it'll help him stay healthy enough to play in every game of the regular season (his goal is to bat .300 and collect 100 RBIs).  Kurihara is currently working out at Athlete's Performance in Arizona.

Yakult Swallows

Kyohei Muranaka is working on polishing his change-up.  Earlier today, he took part in a JPBPA event (Play Catch with the Pros) that drew about 400 fans.

Yokohama Bay Stars

The Bay Stars held a staff meeting at a hotel in Yokohama on Saturday.  Takao Obana told reporters that he wanted to improve communication amongst the players this year since things didn't go so well in that regard last season.  Said Obana, "I kept the lines open between the coaches last year, but I didn't say anything to the players to encourage or motivate them.  I'd like to change that this season and talk it up more."  Seems he may have taken the whole "analyzing baseball" thing too far and didn't do enough to keep the players updated (when the team signed Brett Harper last season, he failed to sit down and talk to Seiichi Uchikawa before shuttling him off to right field, something Uchikawa wasn't too happy about).

Chiba Lotte Marines

After watching his old college rugby team Teikyo University win the Japanese University Championships, Tomoya Satozaki told reporters how he was surprised at how large the players were and how he wanted to incorporate some of their training methods in an effort to build up a body that isn't prone to injuries.

Yuki Karakawa bumped into Shigeo Nagashima on his Hatsumode trip to Naritasan Shinshoji Temple on 1/3.  Karakawa has been visiting the temple for Hatsumode every year since his father works there; Nagashima also goes to the temple for Hatsumode and the two have also bumped into each other the previous two years.  And this year, Nagashima reportedly told Karakawa that it was about time he turned things up, now that he was be entering his 4th year.  Nagashima also knew about Karakawa's injuries and Karakawa apparently felt flattered that Nagashima knew so much about him.

Nippon Ham Fighters

Sho Nakata will be heading to Hawaii on the 19th for training.

Orix Buffaloes

Takahiro Okada would like to play in every practice game and exhibition game during spring camp this year.  Said Okada, "I only have one good year under my belt.  And I need to continue putting up numbers.  I practiced [a certain amount] last season and came up with the season I had last year.  If I want to have an even better season this year, then I need to work more [than last season].  It would be silly to expect good results without working for it."  He also plans on taking part in the team's general training camp that begins on 1/27 in Miyakojima.

Mamoru Kishida, Chihiro Kaneko, and Makoto Moriyama took part in a Buffaloes' fan event today that drew about 250 people.

Rakuten Eagles

Hiasashi Kitani wants to become more popular than Hikonyan (a mascot for Hikone Castle in Hikone, Shiga).  On Saturday, he tossed his fourth bullpen session of the off-season -- about 30 pitches to a standing catcher.

Ryo Hijirisawa worked out at Kleenex Stadium today for the first time this year.  Hijirisawa had been working out at his old college, Kokugakuin University, and returned to Sendai on Saturday.

The Eagles will likely start Kazuo Matsui at short and Akinori Iwamura at third.  Takeshi Yamasaki (or a foreign player) will likely start at first.  Second base will likely be open to competition amongst players like Yosuke Takasu, Daisuke Kusano, Kensuke Uchimura, Tatsuya Shiokawa, Wataru Nishimura, Shintaro Masuda, Ginji, and rookie Toshihito Abe.

The cheerleaders for the 2011 Rakukten Golden Angels were finalized today.  A total 93 people took part in an audition that was held in Sendai and 21 made the cut and 2 were selected as back-ups.

Hisashi Iwakmua took part in a talk event at a department store in Sendai today.  About 500 fans attended.

Seibu Lions

Takeya Nakamura will be using a longer bat this season (from 33.5 inches to 34 inches).  The weight of the bat will remain the same at 920 grams.

Yasuyuki Kataoka worked out at Seibu 2 Stadium today and told reporters he wanted to win the stolen base title this season (if possible, by a wide margin).  Kataoka started his workouts this year on the 4th but still isn't running at 100%.  Kataoka doesn't want to push himself too hard and is taking things slowly this year.

Softbank Hawks

Yuichi Honda took off for his training in Saipan today.  Honda had been working out in Ureshino, Saga up until recently.

Nobuhiko Matsunaka plans on using some of the training routines that 43-year-old soccer player Kazuyoshi Miura employs in his workouts.  Matsunaka is hoping to pick up some of the explosive energy soccer players have.

Keisuke Katto may continue using AKB48's Aitakatta (会いたかった) as his intro music this season.  He apparently found it a little embarrassing (a teammate made the suggestion and he changed his intro music partway through the season last year), but kept it since he thought it might help the team take first place in the Pacific League.