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Yuki Saito Spring Camp News and Notes: February 1, 2011

by on Feb.01, 2011 @ 11:30 am, under NPB

This post will be updated with information as it becomes available so keep checking back if you have any interest in Yuki Saito.

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The 1,100 fans that showed up at the airport yesterday to greet Saito and the Fighters was more than double the amount that showed up to see Shinjo in 2004.  There were also a large number of police officers at the scene -- there were able 30 officers (including regular street clothes officers), 3 times are usual.  The police even setup a live feed that was broadcast at police HQ in Okinawa.  The police apparently wanted to study the footage in preparation of future dates, like when the Giants fly into Naha.

Saito also told reporters yesterday that he didn't plan on throwing a bullpen session on the first day of spring camp, but did want to throw a session during the first block of camp (at about 60-70%).

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Around 200 fans saw Saito and the Fighters off at Haneda airport yesterday.  Add up the fans from Haneda airport, Naha airport, and Nago and there were a total of around 1,400 fans that waited to see Saito yesterday.

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Masataka Nashida told reporters yesterday that he brought his catcher's mitt with him to spring camp and if he has a chance, would like to try and catch one of Saito's bullpen sessions.

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According to TBS' Hiro-obi show:

Economic boost Saito will provide to Okinawa - 1.55B yenoku5000

Economic boost 9 NPB teams will provide Okinawa - 5.5B yen

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Sanspo has comments taken from Saito yesterday:

The start of spring camp...

There are no problems with my physically.  But there are a lot of things I don't know and I would like to get used to things as soon as possible.

How are you feeling?

Right now, I feel pretty nervous.  I want to hurry up and get past that.

What kinds of things do you want to do during spring camp?

I want to throw a lot and build up my body.  I want to toss at least one bullpen session per block.  I throw as many pitches as my body will allow.  I do think I'd like to throw a little extra 1-2 times.

What about during [practice] games?

I want to see up close whether or not my pitches can get pro hitters out.  I hear the slider that college players swing at isn't very effective at getting pros to swing at.  I'm sure strikeouts will drop to, so I'd like to try some things out as well.

What kinds of things do you show?

Pretty much everything.  My fastball, my off-speed pitches, my control.  I want to be able to rely on all those things.

Your aspirations for spring camp?

I want a chance to prepare myself for the start of the season.

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Nikkan Sports is carrying a full report on Saito's first day of spring camp:

A little after 7am - Media begin to gather at the team hotel.  Around 100 media personnel get ready for Saito entrance at the team's training grounds.  It's about 7 degrees Celsius.

8:14am - Saito leaves the hotel.  He begins to walk toward the training grounds, pulling along a group of media along with him.

8:16am - Saito enters the stadium.  Said Saito, "I slept well last night.  The uniform feels new."

9:00am - Team pictures are taken on the field.  Saito takes off his windbreaker to show off his new home uniform with the number 18 on it.

9:14am - Practice begins.  Stretching in the outfield grass.  Fans move out to the outfield section.

9:23am - Stretching ends and jogging in the outfield begins.  Foreign players approach Saito to shake his hand.  Helicopters are flying around in the air.  There weren't any helicopters when Shinjo joined the team.

9:45am - Individual warm-ups end, players begin to warm-up as a team.  Practice begins.  At around 9am, there are about 300 reporters.

9:55am - Team warm-ups end.

10:10am - Saito moves to the secondary field to play catch.  Saito's catch partner is Masaru Nakamura.  They max out their catch distance at about 50 meters.

10:20am - Yu Darvish, Masaru Takeda, and Saito work on various fielding drills.

11:00am - Running begins again.  Saito doesn't plan on tossing a bullpen session on the first day.

11:30am - Mats on the field for mat exercises.

12:10pm - End of morning practice.  Lunch time.

12:20pm - There's an announcement that 800 people, 50 TV cameras, and 400 reporters are in attendance.  The temperature is 16 degree Celsius.

12:45pm - After lunch, there's a mini press conference.  Said Saito, "Today is the first day and I had to keep watching people around me because I'm still getting used to things.  Everything is very peaceful here and I found it very easy [to practice]."

1:10pm - Afternoon practice begins.  Fielding practice.

1:35pm - Darvish makes the following comment regarding Saito during a TV interview: "We haven't really spoken about anything serious.  I want to see what's going on behind [the public] face...  He told me a lot of things."

2:50pm - Practice ends.  With fans lined up on either side, and the media following along, Saito walks back to the hotel.

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Daily Sports also has a full report as well:

8:15am - Saito enters the stadium enclosed by the media.  Female fans shout out, "Yu-chan!"  Said Saito, "I slept well last night.  I feel refreshed."

8:45am - Team pictures are taken on the field.  Saito is wearing the orange shoes he wore during rookie training camp.

9:56am - Warm-ups end.  Saito jobs with Yusuke Uemura and Mitsuo Yoshikawa.

10:05am - Field practice and various infield drills involving the pitcher.  Pitching coach Masato Yoshii is hitting balls with the fungo bat and Saito is fielding them without any difficulties.  Saito and Darvish are seen chatting.

10:33am - Saito takes grounders at short.  Ends at 10:40am.

10:45am - Saito changes his shirt.  He then heads off to the track about 700 meters away from the locker room.  About 100 reporters and 50 fans move along with him.  An elementary school kid shouts out, "Look this way Yu-chan!"

11:03am - Saito begins running dashes at the 200 meter track.  Ends at 11:18am.

11:19am - About 30 local kindergartners shout out "Yu-chan" and Saito turns to wave his hand and smiles.

11:25am - Conditioning training using a mat begins -- like trunk exercises.

12:20pm - The team announces that there are 405 reporters and 800 fans in attendance.

12:35pm - Saito answers some questions.  Said Saito, "Things feel pretty good with the team."

12:55pm - Saito takes some grounders at short.  Ends at 1:10pm.

1:13pm - Saito changes his glove from pink to red and plays some catch with pitching coach Yoshii.  Ends at 1:22pm.

1:22pm - Weight training begins.  Ends at 2:40pm.

2:53pm - Saito returns to the hotel.  Regarding the fans, Saito says he's really happy there was such a large turnout.