...Ken Takahashi, Mike Schultz, and Tomohiro Umetsu all pitched in simulated game during evening practice on Tuesday. These three, along with Ryuji Yokoyama and Katsuhiro Nagakawa (as closer), will likely make up the bullpen. Because the starting staff will begin the season shorthanded (Kan Ohtake and Keisuke Imai are both out), Takahashi, Schultz, Umetsu and Yokoyama might be called on to pitch quite a bit.
...Evening practice on Tuesday lasted about two hours in the rain.
...The first six batters in the starting line-up could look something like this: Akihiro Higashide, Eishin Soyogi, Soichiro Amaya, Kenta Kurihara, Jeff Fiorentino, and Justin Huber.
...It seems the earlier Ohtake might not make it back to Ichi-gun until late-April. On Tuesday, he played some catch (about 150 throws).
Randolph's exhibition game outings:
3/18 vs Hanshin Tigers - 6 IP, 26 BF, 107 NP, 7 H, 6 SO, 2 BB, 3 R, 3 ER
3/11 vs Nippon Ham Fighters - 5 IP, 19 BF, 95 NP, 4 H, 6 SO, 1 BB, 0 R, 0 ER
3/6 vs Rakuten Eagles - 3 IP, 10 BF, 40 NP, 1 H, 3 SO, 0 BB, 0 R, 0 ER
...Daisuke Miura could make a return some time during the club's 3-game series against the Yakult Swallows (begins on 4/2). This will be the first time Miura starts the regular season at Ni-gun since 2003.
...Takahiro Saeki and Toshihiro Noguchi will both start the year at Ni-gun.
...The Carp rotation will apparently be: Kenta Maeda, Giancarlo Alvarado, Jumpei Shinoda, Takeshi Komatsu, Takahiro Aoki, and Yuki Saito.
...Eishin Soyogi finished at the top of the stolen base charts during exhibition play with 8. He also ended exhibition play with a 4-game hitting streak. Soyogi will like bat second on opening day.
Soyogi has also set a goal of 1 hit, 1 walk, and 1 stolen base for every game he plays.
...Justin Huber worked on his hitting and fielding (at first) during practice on Monday (??). During BP, he had the advance scout record his swings. He also took extra fielding drills at first base after general practice.
...Head coach Yutaka Ono tossed about 100 pitches during BP on Monday.
...The Carp introduced a new line of uniforms, called World Uniforms (a total four new designs), that will go on sale at the official team stores beginning on 3/30. There are also two new t-shirt designs as well.
...It seems Daisuke Miura is getting demoted so that he can spend more time working out kinks in his delivery -- Miura and Takao Obana apparently talked it over and agreed that this was the best more for him. This comes on the heels of him giving up 8 home runs to the Yomiuri Giants during an exhibition game on the 20th. He also hit a snag with some shoulder tightness during Spring camp that slowed down his progress.
The opening day start will either go to Stephen Randolph or Naoyuki Shimizu.
...The Bay Stars opening day rotation could include Randolph, Shimizu, Hayato Terahara, and Yuji Yoshimi.
With Miura starting the season at Ni-gun, I wonder where this leaves Shun Yamaguchi. Does he still return to the pen as the closer? Or do they give him another shot at starting?
In either case, it seems like Hiroki Sanada and Shigeki Ushida are potential candidates for the setup role.
...The Yokohama Bay Stars will be handing out fans to the first 10,000 people that arrive at the ballpark on each of the three days during the opening series against the Yomiuri Giants (3/30-4/1). You can grab more info about where to pick up the fans once you get to the park and a few more details about opening day at the official Bay Stars' website (in Japanese).
...The Bay Stars have teamed up with 7-Eleven to give fans a chance to win tickets to Bay Stars' games with food purchases at any of the 7-Eleven stores in the Kanagawa area. Every 700yen spent on food will earn you one chance at winning a free ticket (21,600 pairs of tickets). Check the official Bay Stars' site for more information.
...Seems Terrmel Sledge has started up something called the Family Pair Seat. All you need to be is a Bay Stars' fan in order to be eligible for the drawing. For more info, check out the official site.
=== 3/24/2010 12:05am JST
...Tigers announced on Tuesday that Minoru Iwata had surgery on his left elbow (elbow arthroplasty and ligament repair). Iwata is scheduled to begin rehab training at Naruohama on the 26th.
=== 3/23/2010 7:00pm JST
...Akinobu Mayumi is thinking about making the team take situational BP at some point between Tuesday (when practice restarts) and opening day on the 26th. He's hoping the extra work will help some of the younger / under-used pitchers on the staff.
...The Tigers led the NPB with 22 home runs during exhibition play.
...Keiji Uezono could make his first regular season start on the 28th against the Yokohama Bay Stars. He and Casey Fossum were fighting for the same spot in the rotation and it seems Uezono may have come out on top. Yasutomo Kubo's name has also been mentioned for the 28th.
...Tatsuya Kojima will likely start a Ni-gun game against the Orix on Thursday.
...Randy Messenger had a chance to watch some sumo with his family on the Monday.
...The pitchers, catchers, and coaches will likely get together for a meeting on Wednesday to discuss pitching strategies.
...It seems owner Shinya Sakai is fine with the team going after a player on the foreign market (if needed), although it doesn't seem as if talks have really gotten that far yet. He also said that he expects his staff to find someone that can win more than 10 games this year.
...Kenji Johjima apparently won a fishing tournament that took place in Nagasaki between October 2009 and January 2010.
=== 3/24/2010 12:20am JST
...The Swallows announced an event called 2010 Spring Day Game on Tuesday. The first 2,000 fans that show up to games against the Yokohama Bay Stars on 4/4 and 4/4 wearing something that looks like Spring will be treated to some sake (soup for those that can't drink sake). Winners of a raffle to be held after the game will also get a chance to step on the field and interact with the players. For more information, check out the official Swallows' website.
...Premium fan club members (15 groups of two) could have a chance to watch the Swallows' pre-game practice from the dugout on 4/3 and 4/4.
=== 3/23/2010 4:16pm JST
...Norichika Aoki showed off his new cleats designed by Hitoshi Mimura (三村仁司). Aoki feels the new cleats will allow him win the stolen base crown in the CL this year. He has already had a chance to test them out during exhibition play.
Aoki wore cleats by ASICS last season and switched over to Adidas this year.
...Takahiro Araki could make the starting line-up on opening day due to lefty-righty match-ups. The Yomiuri Giants will be throwing Tetsuya Utsumi on opening day and the Swallows may decide to go with Araki.
If Araki does make the starting line-up, it'll be the first time a rookie has done so since 1970 when Kuniaki Nakamura got the opening day start (third base batting 7th).
...Masahiro Yamamoto is currently working his way back from a left shoulder injury. He is hoping to starting throwing a bullpen session this month and get back to pitching in real games some time in mid-April. After a light round of practice on Monday, he told reporters that he's at about 70-80%.
...According to Ni-gun officials, Kenta Asakura could be ready to start throwing BP sometime this week. After that, he could pitch an inning or two in one of the three Ni-gun games against the Hanshin Tigers that begins on the 30th. His first "real" start could come in a Ni-gun game around the 10th.
Asakura initially hurt his right shoulder during the second round of the Climax Series last year and started the year at Ni-gun Spring camp. To make matters worse, he started experiencing lower back pains during camp, forcing a delay in his return.
He started throwing bullpen again on the 5th and has thrown about 600 pitches since then. Asakura is also tweaking his delivery so that he using his lower body more.
If everything goes smoothly, he might be ready to rejoin the Ichi-gun roster some time in April.
...Kenichi Nakata (right arm) has started throwing again at Ni-gun and is currently at about 70-80%.
Daisuke Yamai (back) should begin throwing again sometime later this month.
...Hirokazu Ibata will be aiming hit at least .330 and collect at least 90 RBI from the 6 spot in the lineup.
Ibata also started using a new bat partway through exhibition play with a slightly thinner grip (thicker than his bat last season, but thinner than the new bat he originally started with this year).
...Fans that attend opening day on 3/26 will be given cheer flags.
=== 3/24/201 12:30am JST
...The Giants held a rally on Tuesday at a hotel in Tokyo. About 1,200 people attended the event (financial backers and supporters).
Club president Tsuneo Watanabe told guests at the rally that he expects the "Giants to finish in first place this season" and that "second place is out of the question."
The Giants were also presented with their Nippon Series rings.
...Yoshinobu Takahashi went 15-for-32 during exhibition play.
=== 3/23/2010 3:40pm JST
...Nippon TV's News Zero will be running a special on Yoshinobu Takahashi during their program on Tuesday night. I have no idea when the segment will air, but News Zero starts at 11:24pm for those interested.
Yoshinobu finished exhibition play with 4 home runs, 7 RBI, and a .469 batting average of 14 games.
...Tatsunori Hara's book Genten (原点), or The Beginning, goes on sale on the 25th for 1,575yen.
=== 10:30pm JST
...Shun Yamaguchi recorded a save in the last exhibition game of the preseason. Takao Obana told reporters after the game that Yamaguchi could better suited as a closer. From the sounds of things, it seems like Yamaguchi might end up becoming the team's closer again.
=== 5:18pm JST
...Yoshitomo Tsutsugo collected his first pro hit and RBI during hit first at bat in a Ni-gun game against the Yakult Swallows on Sunday. With a runner on third and two out in the first, Tsutsugo hit a single into right. For the game, he went 1-for-4 with an RBI and two strikeouts.