Sanspo notes that there was a drop in attendance at the various spring camps on the first Sunday: from 53,006 last year to 48,970 this year.
Both the Softbank Hawks and Yomiuri Giants drew over 10,000 fans. The Yokohama Bay Stars saw an increase over last year, from 800 to 1,800. The biggest drop may have been the Nippon Ham Fighters: from 3,000 (courtesy Yuki Saito) to 850.
The NPB announced on Monday that they hired Hiroya Yamamura (24) as an umpire. He will be a part of the Kanto crew and will head to Okinawa on Wednesday. Yamamura's father, Tatsuya (50), is also an active NPB umpire (part of the Kansai crew); they are the first father-son umpire combo in NPB history.
Via Sponichi: In addition to starting pitcher announcements, the Central League is also discussing a number of other issues, including:
- rental players - the JPBPA has been pushing for this, but teams are concerned about how to implement something like this without letting "team secrets" (like signals) out of the bag.
- the designated hitter rule - the league is against it, citing things like tradition, but concerns about dropping attendance figures could change things in the future.
- lending players to independent league teams
The NPB's Official Baseball Guide 2012 will hit store shelves on February 10.