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Hanshin Tigers: Kohei Shibata feeling pain in left shoulder

by on Jan.19, 2012 @ 11:42 pm, under NPB

Yasutomo Kubo threw 34 pitches in the bullpen today (squatting catcher).

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1st round draft Hayata Ito worked out on his day off today: he started things out after 9am with about 40 minutes of running and then spent about an hour taking indoor BP.  Ito later told reporters that he dined with Yoshinobu Takahashi (YOM).

2nd round draft pick Hiroaki Saiuchi will most likely join the rest of the 2011 draft class for regular practices beginning on Friday (1/20).  He also might be allowed to toss a bullpen session -- the trainer is ok with him tossing a session with a standing catcher, but the coaches will ultimately need to sign off on it.  Saiuchi's workouts on Wednesday included long toss at about sixty meters and playing catch at about five meters.

4th round draft pick Kazuo Ito took a ball off his face (under left eye) during fielding practice on Wednesday.  Fortunately, it was not serious.  The incident occurred an hour into practices (training began at 10am with jogging, warmups, and playing catch).  Today is a day off and the Tigers will see how he is doing tomorrow before deciding on what steps to take next.

Ikusei 1st round draft pick Seiya Hirokami caught pitchers in the bullpen for the second straight day on Wednesday (although it was his first with full catcher's gear).

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Shingo Matsuzaki is still getting used to throwing from the side, something former manager Senichi Hoshino suggested he try doing in order to improve his effectiveness against left-handed batters.

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Masanori Fujihara tossed 25 pitches during his bullpen session on Wednesday (standing catcher).  He also threw two change-ups.

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Takahiro Arai showed off his new throwing mechanics (he is throwing more over the top) during practices at Naruohama on Wednesday -- he made 72 throws over a max distance of about 40 meters.  Arai had trouble throwing the ball last season and has been working on increasing his shoulder flexibility this winter.

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The media learned on Wednesday that Kohei Shibata started feeling pain in his left shoulder during his workouts in Okinawa.  He has already returned to Osaka for a medical examination.  This could mean a Ni-gun start for Shibata.

Shibata started working out with Kentaro Sekimoto, Atsushi Nomi, and Shinji Komiyama in Okinawa since earlier this month.

And the outfield situation: Matt Murton will likely start in right with Tomoaki Kanemoto the frontrunner to start in left.  Before injuring himself, Shibata was in the mix to compete for a starting job in center with other players like Ryo Asai, Shunsuke, and 1st round draft pick Hayata ItoKeiichi Hirano and Yamato are also possibilities.  Wei-Chu Lin is also probably somewhere in there as well.

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Kyuji Fujikawa would like to play out the 2012 season as a closer, but would be willing to discuss things if needed.

Ichi-gun pitching coach Takashi Yamaguchi told reporters on Wednesday there might be times they call on him to pitch in the 7th or 8th innings.  When/if that happens, the Tigers could turn to pitchers like Shinobu Fukuhara, Ryo Watanabe, and Tomoyuki Kubota.  And depending on how things work out with the starting rotation, Daiki Enokida and Yasutomo Kubo could also be considered options.

Yamaguchi is also quoted as saying, "The closer is the pitcher that pitches during the most important part of the game." 

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Pitching coach Keiichi Yabu visited Koshien on Wednesday and told reporters he wants to keep the lines of communication open with players/pitcher, especially when determining where they fit in.