Koji Akiyama may be the front runner to become manager of Samurai Japan. Sadaharu Oh is also said to have brought the issue up (unofficially) with Akiyama already. Source: Sponichi 9/5/2012, Daily Sports 9/5/2012
Akiyama told reporters after Tuesday's game that it would be difficult for an active manager to take the reigns. Source: Sponichi 9/5/2012
If negotiations with Akiyama fall though, Hiromitsu Ochiai could be next in line. Source: Sponichi 9/5/2012
There are some slightly different reports...
Sports Hochi mentions Koji Yamamoto as being the front runner because active managers may not accept the offer. They also think Ochiai may not have enough experience on the international stage to be a leading candidate.
Sanspo figures Ochiai and Akiyama are strong candidates.
According to Nikkan Sports, neither Tatsunori Hara nor Akiyama are not considered candidates because they are active managers. Like Sports Hochi, they feel Yamamoto may be the front runner. They also add prior WBC coaches Hisashi Yamada and Tsutomu Ito to the list of potential candidates.
Sponichi notes that the JPBPA may not have just been trying to negotiate something with the MLB/WBCi, but also with the NPB. With revenue falling, the players are concerned about the future of the league. And instead of focusing on increasing revenue for individual teams, the JPBPA feels it might make more sense for everyone involved to focus on increasing revenue for the NPB as a whole. The move to establish a separate department to handle Samurai Japan sponsorship and marketing rights, instead of spinning it off to another company, may have been seen as a step in the right direction by the JPBPA. Source: Sponichi 9/5/2012
Sponichi conducted a survey and found that fifty-five percent (55%) of respondents were for the JPBPA's decision to participate in the WBC and forty-one percent (41%) were against. They also:
- asked if Japan had a good chance for a "three-peat" and forty-one percent (41%) did not think it was possible while thirty-four percent (34%) thought it was.
- found that Yu Darvish was the most popular player, following by Ichiro and Hideki Matsui. Other players like Hayato Sakamoto and Kenta Maeda were also popular.
Source: Sponichi 9/5/2012
Ron Washington is reportedly ok with Yu Darvish participating in the WBC as a member of Samurai Japan. Source: Sponichi 9/5/2012
Additional notes from the press conference:
JPBPA chairman Takahiro Arai on whether or not there were any differences of opinion among the players from each of the teams: "There were no differences. However, a number of different opinions were raised. At the end though, it was a decision that was made with everyone in agreement."
When asked to clarify what he meant by withdrawing their decision to sit out the WBC, he replied, "We decided [not to participate] on July 20 we first inform the NPB that we were withdrawing that decision. It means that we are participating."
Source: Sponichi 9/5/2012
Nikkan Sports' list of possible player candidates:
Pitchers: Hiroki Kuroda (NYY), Daisuke Matsuzaka (BOS), Yu Darvish (TEX), Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA), Koji Uehara (TEX), Kazuki Yoshimi (Chunichi), Hitoki Iwase (Chunichi), Takuya Asao (Chunichi), Shohei Tateyama (Yakult), Kyohei Muranaka (Yakult), Toshiya Sugiuchi (Yomiuri), Tetsuya Utsumi (Yomiuri), Hirokazu Sawamura (Yomiuri), Tetsuya Yamaguchi (Yomiuri), Atsushi Nomi (Hanshin), Kyuji Fujikawa (Hanshin), Kenta Maeda (Hiroshima), Yusuke Nomura (Hiroshima), Takeru Imamura (Hiroshima), Tadashi Settsu (Softbank), Kenji Otonari (Softbank), Hideki Okajima (Softbank), Masahiko Morifuku (Softbank), Mitsuo Yoshikawa (Nippon Ham), Hirotoshi Masui (Nippon Ham), Takayuki Kishi (Seibu), Hideaki Wakui (Seibu), Yoshihisa Hirano (Orix), Masahiro Tanaka (Rakuten), Yoshihisa Naruse (Lotte).
Catchers: Ryoji Aikawa (Yakult), Shinnosuke Abe (Yomiuri), Shinya Tsuruoka (Nippon Ham), Ginjiro Sumitani (Seibu), Motohiro Shima (Rakuten), Tomoya Satozaki (Lotte).
Infield: Munenori Kawasaki (SEA), Tsuyoshi Nishioka (MIN), Masahiko Morino (Chunichi), Shinya Miyamoto (Yakult), Hiroyasu Tanaka (Yakult), Shuichi Murata (Yomiuri), Hayato Sakamoto (Yomiuri), Takashi Toritani (Hanshin), Keiichi Hirano (Hanshin), Eishin Soyogi (Hiroshima), Yuichi Honda (Softbank), Nobuhiro Matsuda (Softbank), Kensuke Tanaka (Nippon Ham), Hiroyuki Nakajima (Seibu), Takeya Nakamura (Seibu), Mitsutaka Goto (Orix), Tadahito Iguchi (Lotte).
Outfielders: Ichiro Suzuki (NYY), Hideki Matsui (FA), Kosuke Fukudome (FA), Norichika Aoki (MIL), Kazuhiro Wada (Chunichi), Yohei Oshima (Chunichi), Hisayoshi Chono (Yomiuri), Sho Aranami (Yokohama), Seiichi Uchikawa (Softbank), Atsunori Inaba (Nippon Ham), Yoshio Itoi (Nippon Ham), Sho Nakata (Nippon Ham).
UPDATE @ 7:52pm - The NPB would like to select a list of candidate players before the end of September, since the season for players on six teams will end in early October. The roster that plays the two international exhibition games against Cuba will likely be a "domestic" version. The "international" version that will be competing at the WBC will be finalized some time around December. A mini-camp will likely be scheduled sometime in mid-February in Miyazaki. Source: Sponichi 9/5/2012
UPDATE @ 8:10pm - NPB commissioner Ryozo Kato on the manager selection schedule, via Sponichi: "I would like to try and get something done this month. ... This is my hope, nothing is definite."