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CL News and Notes: Chunichi Dragons unsure when Tony Blanco (CHU) will be able to return

by on Jun.21, 2011 @ 12:18 pm, under NPB

Chunichi Dragons

The Dragons aren't sure when Tony Blanco will be rejoining the active roster.  It's possible he could be out until the All-Star break.  Blanco was at Nagoya Stadium working out on Monday.  After some running, he spent some time swinging the bat with just his left hand (his right hand was taped up).

Blanco is currently nursing a right middle finger injury (he fractured his right middle finger near the end of last season and apparently aggravated or re-injured it; the pain apparently began while he was throwing, not hitting; the team didn't think it was serious, but with no improvement, it seems it could be something serious).  Said Blanco, "My right hand still hurts a little.  I plan to go to the hospital for an MRI.  I hear it'll take 15 - 20 days until I can take the splint off.  I'd like to start playing in game in about month, but I really have no idea."

Hanshin Tigers

Sanspo notes that the Tigers could turn to Tatsuya Kojima to be their 5th starter.  That means he could get an Ichi-gun start as early as the 29th (vs Hiroshima).  But a lot will depend on how he does during a Ni-gun game against Chunichi on the 22nd.

Nikkan Sports likes Ikketsu Sho and figures he'll get the Ni-gun start against Chunichi on the 22nd and ultimately the Ichi-gun start on the 29th.

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The Tigers want Daiki Enokida to focus on getting rest before the season resumes on Friday (they'll let him play catch but won't let him toss bullpen sessions every day).

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A number of Ichi-gun players, including Shunsuke and Kohei Shibata, will be with the Ni-gun roster during their game against Chunichi today.

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Yusuke Kawasaki is scheduled to join the Ichi-gun roster for practice today.  The coaches will also get a chance to watch him pitch during a round of situational BP.  Assuming he pitches well, he'll be promoted to Ichi-gun.

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When Akinobu Mayumi was asked about how he was going to use Tomoaki Kanemoto yesterday, he replied, "Just wait and see."  Sanspo figures Kanemoto will be used off the bench, in similar fashion to Shinjiro Hiyama.  The reason: no DH and the Tigers want Kentaro Sekimoto in the line-up.  If they start Kanemoto in left, the Tigers want either Shunsuke or Shibata starting at center (they can help cover portions of left), which pushes Keiichi Hirano to second.  If Kanemoto starts on the bench, Hirano can play center, leaving room for Sekimoto to play second.

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The Tigers will probably continue relying on Akihito Fujii to fill in for Kenji Jojima.

Yomiuri Giants

Shun Tono will probably start Friday's game against the Hanshin Tigers.  Tetsuya Utsumi and Hirokazu Sawamura could follow.

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The Giants plan to have their relievers pitch situational BP (closer to a simulated game) on the 22nd in order to keep them sharp.

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Team chairman Tsuneo Watanabe told reporters yesterday that he wasn't completely satisfied with how the team was doing right now and that it was up to the veterans (like Michihiro Ogasawara and Shinnosuke Abe) to continue performing.  He also added that he was ok with how the younger players were doing because it's "impossible to expect them to grow over night."

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The Ichi-gun and Ni-gun teams had the day off yesterday.  That didn't stop Tomoya Ichikawa from spending some time working on his hitting at Giants Stadium.

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Battery coach Shinichi Murata contacted police at around 4:10pm yesterday afternoon in order to report a fender bender -- he bumped into a car that was stopped behind his while backing out of a parking spot.  According to Kanagawa police a woman in her 30's, riding in the car Murata hit, injured her right shoulder.

Yakult Swallows

Norichika Aoki has decided to try using a Ty Cobb model bat -- it's heavier bat (10 grams heavier at 920 grams) with a thicker handle.  Adidas is working on the new bat and is hoping to have some ready for him by Friday.

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The Swallows had the day off yesterday.  Masanori Ishikawa worked out with pitching coach Tomohito Ito at Jingu.

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The Swallows are thinking about selling a Wirfin Balentien cocktail at Jingu Stadium.  Could hit Jingu sometime after the All-Star break.

Hiroshima Carp

The Carp will probably activate Kyohei Nakamura -- he is scheduled to join the Ichi-gun club for practices on the 23rd and could get his first Ichi-gun start on either the 26th vs Chunichi (Mazda Stadium) or 28th vs Hanshin (Toyama).  Nakamura has pitched will at Ni-gun, going 3-3 with a 1.81 ERA (49.2 IP, 35 H, 1 HR, 16 BB, 23 SO, 17 R, 10 ER; walks are something to keep an eye on, but it seems he's doing a better job with his control, particularly with his slider; he also picked up a change).

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Current locks in the starting rotation probably include Kenta Maeda, Bryan Bullington, and Yuya Fukui.

Yokohama Bay Stars

The Bay Stars will be hosting Hawaiian Festival on 8/27 and 8/28 (vs Chunichi at Yokohama).  They are currently thinking about inviting the Hula Girls from Spa Resort Hawaiians to perform.