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Samurai Japan News and Notes: February 27, 2013

by on Feb.27, 2013 @ 11:35 pm, under WBC

The official Samurai Japan site: http://samurai.npb.or.jp/

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The team traveled to Fukuoka today and worked out for about two hours at YafuOku Dome.

Players focused on hitting baseballs up the middle during batting practice.

Source: Nikkan Sports 2/27/2013, Nikkan Sports 2/27/2013

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Kazuo Matsui was able to practice with the rest of the team today.

The trio of Matsui, Takashi Toritani, and Nobuhiro Matsuda will be tasked to cover two positions: second and third.

Source: Sponichi 2/27/2013

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Sanspo figures there are six spots for starters to pitch in during the First Round of the WBC (three to start the games, three to relieve the starters).  Masahiro Tanaka (starter) and Toshiya Sugiuchi (reliever) will likely get pitch in Game 1.  Kenta Maeda (starter) will likely pitch in Game 2.  For Game 3, there will likely be at least two patterns, depending on how Japan does in the first two games.  The last three spots (Game 2 reliever, Game 3 starter, Game 3 reliever) are still open.  Tetsuya UtsumiHirokazu SawamuraHideaki Wakui, and Kenji Otonari are all possibilities.

Source: Sanspo 2/27/2013

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Utsumi made some adjustments to his mechanics after his outing against Hiroshima on the 17th.  He also has a better feel for his change.  As of now, he appears to be the top candidate to start Game 3 against Cuba on March 6.

Source: Sponichi 2/27/2013, Nikkan Sports 2/27/2013

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Otonari ended workouts early on Tuesday because he was not feeling well.  He might have had a minor case of gastroenteritis.  He should be ok for his start against Yomiuri on Thursday.

The first three games could be: Tanaka and Sugiuchi for Game 1; Maeda and Sawamura for Game 2; and Utsumi and Otonari for Game 3.  If Japan is 1-1 after the first two games, Sugiuchi could start with Atsushi Nomi and Utsumi waiting in the wings.

Source: Sports Hochi 2/27/2013, Sports Hochi 2/27/2013

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Tanaka watched three innings of Tuesday's Brazil-Orix game.  He tossed a bullpen session during workouts before the game.

Source: Daily Sports 2/27/2013

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Yamamoto watched four innings of Tuesday's game.

Source: Daily Sports 2/27/2013

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Nobuhiro Matsuda was thrown out trying to steal third after he hit a one-out double to left in the 3rd inning.  He told reporters that he took off on his own and that he thought he had the pitcher timed.  Koji Yamamoto did not seem to pleased and said, "You should not steal third unless it is 100%.  I want them to think about the situations."

Source: Sanspo 2/27/2013

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Yamamoto may consider moving Katsuya Kakunaka up in the batting order.

He could bat second against Yomiuri on Thursday, according to batting coach Kazuyoshi Tatsunami.

Source: Sanspo 2/27/2013, Nikkan Sports 2/27/2013, Sponichi 2/27/2013

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The coaches held an emergency meeting after Tuesday's game.  When Yamamoto emerged, he said to reporters, "Each of the players are trying to make something happen.  They are pushing too hard."

Source: Sponichi 2/27/2013

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A reception for the WBC was held in Fukuoka on Tuesday.  About 170 people attended the event.

Source: Daily Sports 2/27/2013

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WBC Brazil

The Game 1 starter will likely be Rafael Fernandes.  Andre Rienzo was an option, but they decided to take it easy with him because he recently pitched and is following that up with his travel to Japan.

Source: Nikkan Sports 2/27/2013

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WBC China

John McLaren told reporters after today's 8-1 practice game loss against Orix that the outfielders may have some difficulty tracking fly balls because they are unused to domed stadiums.

Source: Nikkan Sports 2/27/2013

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WBC Cuba

Victor Mesa on why he was telling players to work on hitting the ball to the opposite field:

We are just doing what we always do.  We have a lot of young players and they want to hit home runs during practice.  If they keep that up it will become difficult for them to hit the outside pitches.

Mesa on the tournament:

Our country does not know what it means to lose.  We were not ready in November, but we will take this to the US.  If that does not happen, it will be a very bad situation.

Source: Nikkan Sports 2/27/2013