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Samurai Japan News and Notes: February 28, 2013

by on Feb.28, 2013 @ 11:43 pm, under NPB

Shinnosuke Abe was left out of the starting line-up against Yomiuri tonight because of discomfort in his right knee.  He did not participate in pre-game workouts.  Abe reportedly started feeling something in the knee during warm-ups on Wednesday.  This was a precautionary move.

Source: Sponichi 2/28/2013, Nikkan Sports 2/28/2013

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Hirokazu Sawamura made an appearance in relief today because no one else needed work.

Source: Sponichi 2/28/2013

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The starting pitchers for the first two games are more or less set with Masahiro Tanaka for Game 1 against Brazil and Kenta Maeda for Game 2 against China.  The Game 3 starter against Cuba has not yet been set, but candidates likely include Tetsuya Utsumi (front-runner), Toshiya Sugiuchi (will likely pitch in Game 1) and Hirokazu Sawamura (will likely pitch in Game 2).

Source: Nikkan Sports 2/28/2013

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Tanaka threw about fifty pitches in the bullpen on Tuesday.

Source: Sponichi 2/28/2013

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Abe knows he is not pulling his weight at the plate right now (he is 1-for-12 in four practice games through Wednesday) and told reporters that at this point, he does not deserve to be a part of Samurai Japan.

"It would not be wrong for someone to say that I am a phony samurai.  No, not even a samurai.  I am a defeated warrior," said Abe.

He has obviously not given up and realizes he needs to turn things around as both the captain on the team and as the bat in the middle of the line-up.

Source: Nikkan Sports 2/28/2013

Abe made some adjustments to his stride during workouts on Wednesday.  He also choked up on the bat during batting practice (sixty swings, one over the fence).

Source: Sponichi 2/28/2013

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Since Abe is not hitting right now, the plan is to try and take the pressure off by putting together a top three that can score runs.

"[Hayato] Sakamoto and [Seiichi] Uchikawa are high percentage hitters.  By putting the hot [Katsuya] Kakunaka in the two-hole, we can keep things going for Uchikawa if either the first or second hitters get on base," said batting coach Kazuyoshi Tatsunami.

Source: Sponichi 2/28/2013

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Hisayoshi Chono has also struggled at the plate: 1-for-16 in four practice games through Wednesday.

"People are talking, but the tournament has not started yet.  You can leave it up to me once the tournament starts.  If I can not hit even after the tournament starts, then there is nothing I can say against the criticism," said Chono.

Source: Sponichi 2/28/2013, Daily Sports 2/28/2013

Including today's game and an intra-squad practice game, Chono is 1-for-21.

Source: Daily Sports 2/28/2013

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Ryoji Aikawa is willing to give as much information as he has on Yakult Swallow teammate Rafael Fernandes (WBC Brazil).

Source: Sponichi 2/28/2013

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INF/base-running coach Nobuhiro Takashiro on second and third:

"[Nobuhiro] Matsuda is beginning to show signs of life.  [Takashi] Toritani has been doing well all along.  Matsuda, Toritani, and [Kazuo] Matsui will share three positions, but Matsuda can only play third."

Source: Nikkan Sports 2/28/2013

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Koji Yamamoto may have given up on trying to set a line-up that switches back and forth between right-handed and left-handed hitters.  He wants hitters to get back to the basics by keeping their swings short and compact.  Both coaches and players held meetings on Wednesday.

Source: Sanspo 2/28/2013

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All the coaches have been given red underwear.

Source: Nikkan Sports 2/28/2013

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About 1,000 fans greeted Samurai Japan at Hakata Station in Fukuoka on Wednesday.

Source: Sponichi 2/28/2013

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WBC Brazil

Pitching coach Tiago Caldeira did not want to make any excuses, but did tell reporters that some of the pitchers may be a little wild because they are having a difficult time getting a good grip on the ball.

Source: Sanspo 2/28/2013

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WBC China

John McLaren is still having problems placing names with faces since he was only named manager in October.

Source: Sponichi 2/28/2013