This post will be updated with information as it becomes available so keep checking back if you have any interest in Yuki Saito.
Saito tossed 32 pitches in the bullpen yesterday -- he first threw 10 warm-up pitches and then threw 32 pitches at 50-60% capacity. Within the 32 pitches, he threw 6 curves, 1 slider, and 1 change-up -- two of his curves went off their mark, one wide to the left and one bounce in the ground before hitting the standing catcher in the shin. The last 5 pitches he threw were fastballs.
In the bullpen watching over Saito were Ni-gun manager Shinichi Igarashi, GM Masao Yamada, a number of other club personnel, and 125 members of the media.
Saito later had this to say about his bullpen session:
I tried to focus on my balance while pitching [in the bullpen]. I set my own pace and didn't get caught up in what was going on around me. Just as usual. And if they think I don't have what it takes from that, then it just means I need to rebuild things from Ni-gun. I don't see any point in trying to show off.
Tsutomu Iwamoto also had a chance to watch Saito's bullpen session and was impressed with what he saw. Said Iwamoto, "He's already got good spin on the ball. Nice movement on the ball."
Saito's catcher yesterday, bullpen catcher Teppei Komai, told reporters that Saito's fastball had good movement and spin, even though it was still only his first bullpen session. He also added that he thought Saito had good composure on the mound. As for the curve that bounced off his shin: "It's still early so it can't be helped. It did hurt though."
The rookies have the day off today. Saito told reporters yesterday that he didn't really have any plans for today. This marks the second day off since the start of rookie camp, but the first where he actually doesn't have something to do (he had to attend a Nippon Ham function on his first day off).
About 1,800 people were at Kamagaya yesterday. And even though the bullpens were shuttered, about 200 fans still ended up gathering around the area.
Sanspo has some comments from Saito:
Thoughts on your bullpen session.
I tried to focus on my weight transfer and releasing the ball as far out in front of me as possible.
You had the catcher stand.
Have the catcher squat is closer to game-like conditions, so I usually don't have the catcher stand. I stopped the session when I got to the point where I wanted to throw just a little bit more.
You also threw some off-speed pitches.
I wanted my muscles to memorize what it's like to throw off-speed pitches. I want to stimulate [the muscles].
How hard were you throwing?
About 50-60%. It was more about balance.
Have you changed your training methods since turning pro?
It's pretty much doing the same stuff I did while in college. I want to workout on my own pace and improve my performance level.
Are you doing anything to show you're ready for Ichi-gun?
I'm just going about things as usual. If I don't have what it takes, I'll just work at in at Ni-gun. No need show off.
Here is Sponichi's comments from Saito:
You tossed 32 pitches during your first bullpen.
I stopped right around the point where I felt like I wanted to pitch just a little. I hardly ever threw to a standing catcher during college.
A lot of fans and media personnel showed up just for your bullpen session.
To say it's strange would true. But I don't want to get caught up in that. I just want to keep things at my own pace.
You threw the new NPB regulation baseball.
I'm not worried about it. I've never really had problems with baseballs. And I didn't feel any awkwardness with regards to the stitching. I think I'll fine.
If you were to grade your session today, what would you give it?
I was throwing to a standing catcher so I can't really grade it.
The second block of rookie training camp ended.
A lot of the training I'm doing now is similar to what I was doing in college. Practice isn't really that hard and I'm getting used to it little by little. I'm really all about working out in game-like conditions, so I'd like to try and [hold a bullpen session] with a squatting catcher some time during the third or fourth block.
Saito training gear is selling really well. S'port Mizuno sold out of the silver training suit (15,000 yen) and the orange neck warmer (3,000 yen) that Saito wore on the first day of rookie training camp in just two days. And it's the same story at similar shops in other parts of the country.
The Fighters are thinking about selling some more tickets via TV after sales went really well during their first attempt in December. If they do, they could sell tickets to their VIP Seats (500,000 yen) and Diamond Seats (400,000 yen). As of the 18th, the Fighters have sold 3,300 season seats, about 90% of what they sold last season. The club is hoping to reach 4,000 by 3/25.
Because the stands at Kamagaya are open to fans that want to see Saito, Makoto Kaneko has found that he needs to wake up earlier in order to get his stadium stair run in before the 10am opening. He also told reporters that commuting to the stadium by car has been a nightmare.