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Central League News and Notes: January 31, 2011

by on Jan.31, 2011 @ 2:59 pm, under NPB

This post will be updated throughout the day.

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Chunichi Dragons

The Dragons held a general team meeting today (players and staff).

Takahiro Saeki took part in general training camp in Okinawa on Sunday.  Saeki is still feeling his way around his new digs (the only team he has ever played for is Yokohama) and has enlisted the help of Masaaki Koike, who also started his career with the Bay Stars.

Joel Guzman took 40 swings of the bat during general training camp in Okinawa on Sunday and hit 4 over the fence (including a couple that went out of the park entirely).  After seeing Guzman hit, it seems stadium official are thinking about raising the netting out in left field (it already goes up about 14 meters).  Said Guzman, "I held back a little since it was my first day.  I'll turn things up little by little from here on out.  The secret behind my power?  It's because I'm big.  I'm not thinking about hitting home runs, but if I hit the ball hard using this big body of mine, the ball just travels.  If I can prepare myself properly, I'll be able to perform during games too."

Hiromitsu Ochiai arrived in Okinawa on Sunday wearing a surgical mask (to ward off the flu).  Prior to boarding his flight at Haneda, reporters asked Ochiai about the rainy whether down in Okinawa to which he replied, "It would be a problem if it only rained over our training facilities, but it's the same for all the other teams, so I don't mind."

Hiroshima Carp

Mike Schultz has the flu and will miss the start of spring camp.  He had a fever of 38 degrees on the 28th and is currently resting in Hiroshima.  The Carp expect Schultz to miss anywhere from 5 days to a week.

Kiyoshi Toyoda played catch at a distance of around 80 meters for about 20 minutes on Sunday.  He also shagged fly balls in the outfield and continued to work on his long throw for another 10 minutes or so.  Toyoda later told reporters he's about a week ahead of his usual schedule.

Yakult Swallows

The Swallows had a general team meeting at the team hotel today.  Yasushi Iihara was named spring camp captain and Kenichi Matsuoka was named pitching captain.  After the meeting, the players attended a meet and great with about 300 local fans.

Junji Ogawa had a chance to watch Wladimir Balentien taking BP today.  Said Ogawa, "I hear he strikes out a lot.  But he doesn't move his body a lot, so he looks fine. ... If he can play right, he'll also need to have a good glove and some speed."

Ogawa is thinking about making Iihara the spring camp captain.  That means he wants Iihara to 1) relay practice menus to the players; 2) help players understand the manager's thoughts; and 3) be the loudest player on the field.  The hope is that all this will help Iihara get to the next level.

Yokohama Bay Stars

Naoto Watanabe was left behind at the airport today.  For some reason, it took a while for Watanabe's luggage to appear in the pick-up area and by the time he got out to the lobby, the welcoming ceremony was over and the team bus was already gone.

The Bay Stars arrived at Naha Airport today.

Fans that are expecting to see Hichori Morimoto do silly things on the field during spring camp will have to wait until the regular season.  He told reporters yesterday that he doesn't have anything planned for spring camp and that his focus will be on mixing in with the team and getting ready for the season.  Morimoto turned 30 today.

Yomiuri Giants

Head coach Kaoru Okazaki seems to like what he sees in Rusty Ryal so far.  Said Okazaki, "He did well during fielding and batting practice, a lot better than I imagined. ... He makes good contact and it seems like he has a good eye.  I think he's a middle of the order type of player, he also seems to have power.  I think he can play at second and third, but I think we'll have him start at third first."

The Giants held a team meeting today, involving both Ichi-gun and Ni-gun players.

Tatsunori Hara told reporters today that beginning with exhibition games in March, he'll start to piece together a starting rotation that could be used during the regular season.  That means he'll use February to work out which pitchers he trusts the most.

Tomoya Inzen worked out for about 3 hours with the Ni-gun group today (BP, fielding practice).

Pitching coach Kazuhisa Kawaguchi watched over 9 pitchers that tossed bullpen sessions today and appeared satisfied with the progress the pitchers were making.

Hara checked out the Giants working out at Sun Marine Stadium Miyazaki today.

Hideki Asai showed up to training today with his hair shaved down.  He told reporters that he asked Shinnosuke Abe to shave his hair down because it was getting in the way.

Hara has already decided to demote Tashi Ota to Ni-gun spring camp and promote Takahito Kudo to Ichi-gun spring camp.  According to Hara, it's all about keeping the players on their toes.  Ota was out for three days with the flu and started practicing again on Sunday; he worked out for about 3 hours and spent quite a bit of time on hitting -- 100 swings of soft toss BP and 110 swings in the cages.