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Samurai Japan: Portions of Koji Yamamoto’s press conference from Sponichi, Nikkan Sports

by on Feb.20, 2013 @ 9:20 pm, under WBC

Sponichi and Nikkan Sports have posted bits of Koji Yamamoto's press conference.

First Sponichi -

Kenta Maeda made the cut, despite a slow start.

I received a report that he is improving.  That is why he made the team.

Sho Nakata made it as well.

He has nothing to show for yet, but he is the type that can take advantage of a mistake pitch.  He is our lone guy, a threat to the opposition.

What about closer?

We have not decided on any one pitcher yet.  That will come after we see more games.

What kinds of things did you tell the five players you cut?

I told them that they are [still] members of Samurai Japan.  I asked them to be ready in case there is an injury.

On the tournament.

The player's know what is at stake.  They will make sure they are ready by March 2.  And hopefully the team will pull together as one.

Source: Sponichi 2/20/2013

And Nikkan Sports -

The final roster has been decided.

There were difficult decisions to make, right down to the wire.  We considered speed and defense, in addition to pitching ability.  This is the result of that.

What did you tell the five players you cut?

Myself and the coaches, we called each player to our room and told them.  They were all disappointed.  It was a difficult decision for us as well.  We both felt bad and I asked to shake their hands.

Takuya Asao, a player you considered the closer, was dropped.

Last night, Osamu Higashio and Tsuyoshi Yoda said we should not let him throw if we want to consider his future.  That is why he did not pitch today.

Who will replace Asao as closer?

I will talk it over witht he pitching coach and decide.  We have not decided on any one player yet.  There is a candidate.

Kenta Maeda is also going through a slow start but made the roster.

I received a report that his condition was improving.  That is why he made the team.

Shuichi Murata was one of the position players that did not make the cut.

Each is an important player.  We made our decision based on how much a player might be able to help the team.  It had nothing to do with his condition.

Two speedy players, Yohei Oshima and Ryo Hijirisawa, were also cut.

We can not change too many of the players that make it into a game.  We can not afford to replace players frequently.  We considered the line-up when making decision.

Why did Katsuya Kakunaka make the cut?

He offers us options: he can be a bat off the bench and can also start.  We like his bat.  He makes good contact.  He is a good player.

Why did you select Yuichi Honda?

He can play second and third.  He also has speed.

Anything you would like to tell the twenty-eight players?

I want them to prepare themselves so that they are at peak condition on March 2.  I told them we need to pull together as one.

Source: Nikkan Sports 2/20/2013