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[8/21/2013] Hiroki Kokubo reportedly a top managerial candidate for Samurai Japan

by on Aug.21, 2013 @ 1:08 pm, under NPB, WBC
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According to Sports Hochi, former Softbank Hawk Hiroki Kokubo (forty-one) is a top candidate to become Samurai Japan's first standing manager.  If Kokubo is selected as manager, it will be his job to manage the NPB's "thirteenth team" and prepare it for international competition.

The NPB replied to the reports by saying that while the Samurai Japan Operations Division was beginning to consider candidates, it was still too early to finalize any decisions.  They had nothing to say about Kokubo being a possible candidate.

Source: Sports Hochi 8/20/2013, Sports Hochi 8/21/2013

Proposal to select full-time manager for Samurai Japan

by on Jun.06, 2013 @ 8:51 pm, under NPB, WBC
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The media learned today that the twelve NPB teams are proposing that a full-time manager be selected for Samurai Japan.  The manager would be expected to check on talent year-round by watching spring/fall camp and regular season games.  He would be in charge of selecting teams for international games during the off-season, the Premium 12 in 2015, and the World Baseball Classic in 2017.

Source: Sponichi 6/6/2013

[4/1/2013] General News and Notes: Samurai Japan, HoF name/status change ceremony

by on Apr.02, 2013 @ 2:00 am, under NPB, WBC
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Koji Yamamoto's contract as Samurai Japan officially ended on Sunday.  The NPB will likely begin talks about the next manager some time in June.

Source: Sports Hochi 4/1/2013

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The NPB held a committee meeting for Samurai Japan on Monday.  Special adviser Shigeo Araki and special assistant adviser Ken Maezawa participated for the first time.  The group met ahead of a scheduled executive committee meeting on the 8th and discussed a number of issues, including ideas for how to expand revenue streams for the Samurai Japan project.

Source: Sponichi 4/1/2013

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The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Tokyo held a ceremony on Monday to commemorate the museum's name change/status from Zaidan Hojin Yakyu Taiiku Hakubutsukan (財団法人 野球体育博物館) to Koeki Zaidan Yakyu Dendo Hakubutsukan (公益財団法人 野球殿堂博物館).

Source: official announcement

Koji Yamamoto loses three kilograms since returning from the WBC

by on Mar.25, 2013 @ 10:12 pm, under WBC

Koji Yamamoto was at Tokyo Dome on Sunday because he was covering the Rakuten-Yomiuri game (TV commentator for Nippon TV).  It was the first time he stepped out in public since his press conference after returning from the WBC.  He has been heavily criticized by the press and has apparently lost about three kilograms.

In speaking to reporters, he said that he still had no regrets of the stolen base attempt in the 8th inning against Puerto Rico.  He also said, "It has drawn my attention since I have been bashed about it in articles.  We lost the game so there is little I can do about what is written, but I do not appreciate incorrect reports. ... [I have not reacted publicly because] it will just draw more criticism."

With regards to continuing on as Samurai Japan manager, he replied, "I am not thinking about anything.  No one has told me anything.  An urge?  I have not thought about that either."  He then added, "I hope all players were able to return to their teams injury-free and can bring out the start of the season in good shape.  I would like all of them to do well this year."

Source: Sponichi 3/25/2013

Samurai Japan News and Notes: March 21, 2013

by on Mar.21, 2013 @ 11:57 pm, under WBC

The total tournament prize money pool was fifteen million dollars.

Dominican Republic: 3.4 million dollars
Japan: 1.6 million dollars

Source: Nikkan Sports 3/21/2013

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2013 MetLife All-World Baseball Classic Team

Pos Player Team
C Yadier Molina Puerto Rico
1B Edwin Encarnacion Dominican Republic
2B Robinson Cano Dominican Republic
3B David Wright United States
SS Jose Reyes Dominican Republic
OF Angel Pagan Puerto Rico
OF Nelson Cruz Dominican Republic
OF Michael Saunders Canada
DH Hirokazu Ibata Japan
P Kenta Maeda Japan
P Nelson Figueroa Puerto Rico
P Fernando Rodney Dominican Republic

Source: WBC.com

Samurai Japan News and Notes: March 20, 2013

by on Mar.20, 2013 @ 11:41 pm, under WBC

Seiichi Uchikawa is still having a hard time coming to terms with how things ended.

Uchikawa posted an update on his blog about his disappointment in losing the WBC and thanked fans for their support.

The Softbank Hawks received over 250 messages of support from fans for Uchikawa.  They also received one or two negative messages.

A fake Uchikawa Twitter account (@UchikawaSei1) made the rounds.  The Hawks and Uchikawa posted announcements warning fans.

Source: Sanspo 3/20/2013, Nikkan Sports 3/20/2013, Daily Sports 3/20/2013blog entry 3/20/2013, Sponichi 3/20/2013

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About 100 fans greeted Samurai Japan at the airport on Tuesday.  That was down from the 1,000 or so that showed up at the airport after the 2006 tournament and the 1,200 or so that showed after the 2009 tournament.

Source: Sports Hochi 3/20/2013

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Sponichi has posted portions of strategy coach Hideki Hashigami's interview with the media.

In the semifinals loss against Puerto Rico, the 8th innings failed stolen base attempt rings loud.

[J.C.] Romero was on the mound.  Our data had him at about 1.8 to 1.9 to the plate.  To steal base, we figured about 1.6.  We were 100% sure we could run.  We confirmed our data by checking the first pitch.

But it ended in failure.

We confirmed important issues for stealing bases during practice games.  If the runner on first gets a late lead, they should not force it.  The runner on second should not try to hide his start.  But that information did not entirely sink in.

The offense could not hit Mario Santiago.

He threw a lot of two-seamers and change-ups, just like our data indicated.  However, he threw the two-seamer away instead of inside.  That was not in our data.  By staying on the outside corners, you take away the long hits.  They probably made changes based on the specifics of the stadium.

The catcher was Yadier Molina.

He is clever.  He sets up inside close to the batter.  He watches the hitters face until the very last minute.  Very insightful.

On how Puerto Rico played their game.

They are kind of like Japan.  They used the bunt and hit and run, like Japan.  I thought one of the requirements in winning an international tournament was the difference between yakyu and baseball.  Against Puerto Rico, both teams were playing yakyu.  That made it difficult for us.

Source: Sponichi 3/20/2013

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Kiyoshi Momose is the Pittsburgh Pirates' Latin American Strength & Conditioning Coordinator.  He also became a conditioning coach for the Dominican Republic beginning in the 1st Round at the request of the MLB.  He was only supposed to be with the team for about a week, but Tony Pena apparently liked his work and asked the Pittsburgh Pirates for permission to keep him through to the end of the Finals.

Source: Sanspo 3/20/2013

Samurai Japan News and Notes: March 19, 2013 @ 11:42pm

by on Mar.19, 2013 @ 11:42 pm, under WBC

The team arrived at Narita Airport today.  About 140 fans greeted the team at the airport.

Kenta Maeda, Hirokazu Ibata, Shinnosuke Abe, Koji Yamamoto, general pitching coach Osamu Higashio, and general position player coach Masataka Nashida attended a press conference at a hotel in Narita, Chiba.

Source: Sponichi 3/19/2013, Sponichi 3/19/2013, Daily Sports 3/19/2013

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Sports Hochi has a portion of Yamamoto's press conference interview in Japan:

On looking back at the tournament.

The team came together as one during the 2nd Round.  I am relieved that there were no significant injuries to any of the players.

You fought with the flag of Japan on your back.

There was pressure from the moment I accepted [this position].  I spent the last half-year making sure the team pulled together with [Shinnosuke] Abe at the center.

What do you remember the most?

[Takashi] Toritani's stolen base and [Hirokazu] Ibata's timely hit in the 2nd Round.  The entire dugout pulled together as one as it hoped for that big hit.

A base-running mistake may have led to the loss in the semifinals.

It is important that double-steals are 100%.  We determined it was possible.  The end result was not good, but I have no regrets.

Do you have any words for the players you managed?

Each player felt what it meant to compete in an international tournament and each did their absolute best.  I am grateful to them.

Source: Sports Hochi 3/19/2013

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Nikkan Sports posted a portion of an interview TBS' news information program NSta conducted with Hirokazu Ibata:

You have to be 120% certain when you make try for third.  I felt caught and decided not to run, but if I knew the play was going to end the way it did, I would have gone.  The timing was not great, but I should have forced it.

Four Chunichi players were selected but three were cut.  I wanted to do the work of all four players.  I will do my best over the next four years so that I can play in the next tournament.

Source: Nikkan Sports 3/19/2013

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Sponichi posted the top ten tweeted Samurai Japan players during the WBC, as provided by Twipple Trend.

Top Ten Tweeted Players

  Name Tweets
1 Ibata, Hirokazu 568,960
2 Toritani, Takashi 323,220
3 Abe, Shinnosuke 319,460
4 Sakamoto, Hayato 299,280
5 Itoi, Yoshio 256,420
6 Nakata, Sho 216,070
7 Uchikawa, Seiichi 216,050
8 Chono, Hisayoshi 176,130
9 Meada, Kenta 160,660
10 Inaba, Atsunori 151,040

Source: Sponichi 3/19/2013

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A portion of Yamamoto's post-game press conference:

On why the team lost...

The pitchers on the other team pitched well and did not allow us many opportunities.

There are questions as to why [Atsushi] Nomi was left in to face the right-handed hitting Alex Rios in the 7th.

The decision was made on prior results.  He was pitching well and he was in good shape.  You have to let him pitch.

On [Seiichi] Uchikawa in the 8th inning.

We gave them a green light for the double-steal.  [Hirokazu] Ibata got a bad start and it ended the way it did.

Thoughts on the captain and clean-up hitter [Shinnosuke] Abe.

He pulled the team together, the veterans provided their support, and the younger players followed.  The team started functioning as one during the 2nd Round.  I am lucky that I was able to participate with such wonderful players.

Thoughts on the players?

We went with domestic players and each managed to get ready in a very short amount of time, even though things are really rough right now because it is still the pre-season.  I think we came together as a team.

Thoughts on [Kenta] Maeda.

I think he pitched well.

There was a lot of pressure with a third straight championship on the line.

I felt the pressure I applied to myself and the pressure to win over the last half year.  It was a good experience.  I had the opportunity to taste the hardships of competition at this age.  I did feel the burning desire.

Source: Sanspo 3/19/2013

What comes next for Samurai Japan?

by on Mar.19, 2013 @ 4:50 pm, under WBC

What comes next for Samurai Japan?

Sanspo:

  • The NPB is happy with Yamamoto's work during the WBC.  They could extend his contract, which runs through to the end of the month.
  • Samurai Japan will probably play some exhibition games in the fall.  However, nothing has been set in stone yet.  Until the schedule is determined, personnel decisions will not be made.
  • The Samurai Japan brand has already secured over one billion yen in sponsorship deals.

Source: Sanspo 3/19/2013Sanspo 3/19/2013

Sports Hochi:

  • Yamamoto will likely step down as manager of Samurai Japan for the time being.
  • Other than some exhibition games in the fall, nothing else has been decided.  The NPB will consider all options as it puts together plans for what comes next.
  • There are some that are interested in asking Yamamoto to return and he will likely be involved in some capacity.
  • Personnel decisions will be held off until the NPB figures out what comes next for Samurai Japan.

Source: Sports Hochi 3/19/2013

Nikkan Sports:

  • Additional details for the Premium 12 will be decided during an IBAF meeting in Japan on April 14.
  • There is a chance Yamamoto will be given a contact extension as manager, however, it may only be in name and until the Premium 12 tournament.
  • Personnel decisions will not be made until a schedule is determined.

Source: Nikkan Sports 3/19/2013, Nikkan Sports 3/19/2013, Nikkan Sports 3/19/2013

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Shohei Otani and Shintaro Fujinami could make the roster for the next WBC.  There is also a good chance that they will participate in the Premium 12 in 2015.

Source: Sponichi 3/19/2013

Samurai Japan News and Notes: March 19, 2013 @ 4:46pm

by on Mar.19, 2013 @ 4:49 pm, under WBC
Tags:

Atsunori Inaba (40) told reporters after Monday's loss that this was his last international tournament.

Shinnosuke Abe (33) also hinted that this was probably his last tournament.

Hirokazu Ibata (37) would like another shot at representing Japan.

Source: Sanspo 3/18/2013, Sanspo 3/18/2013, Sports Hochi 3/18/2013

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Masahiro Tanaka threw forty pitches in the bullpen before Monday's game against Puerto Rico.

Source: Sanspo 3/19/2013

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Nikkan Sports notes that eight pitchers got up a total twenty times to warm-up during Monday's loss and that it may have been an indication of an uncertainty in pitching roles.  They also mention that pitchers were not brought in to relieve, so much as they were brought in because the previous pitcher was getting hit.

Source: Nikkan Sports 3/19/2013

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Hirokazu Ibata and Seiichi Uchikawa were not told when to run in the 8th inning, the decision was left up to the two runners.  Sanspo and Nikkan Sports both feel that may have been the problem -- without the clear sign to run, Ibata decided to hold up and Uchikawa decided to go.  It also placed a large amount pressure and responsibility on the runners.

Source: Sanspo 3/19/2013, Nikkan Sports 3/19/2013

Daily Sports wonders why the runners were even given the green light with Abe batting and Yadier Molina behind the plate.  They also wonder if Koji Yamamoto should be asked to return, after losing a game the team could have won.

Source: Daily Sports 3/19/2013

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Uchikawa after Monday's loss:

That is a play that should never have happened.  I have no excuses.  I jumped out, it was my fault.  My one mistake ended everything.  I am very sorry.

Many people said they wanted us to win our third in a row...  Not just this tournament, but others from the previous tournament were also here.  For those people as well, I feel like I ended it all...  I am very sorry.

Source: Daily Sports 3/19/2013

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Sponichi notes that this year's team, without Ichiro Suzuki, did not have the same kind of fire and intensity the 2006 and 2009 teams had.

Source: Sponichi 3/19/2013

Sponichi wonders if Kenta Maeda got a little tripped up after home plate umpire asked him to remove the bracelet on his left wrist in the 1st inning.

Source: Sponichi 3/19/2013

Sponichi analyst Hiromi Makihara mentions that he had a bad feeling about the offense when he noticed players taking bigger cuts during their practice games in Arizona.  He also notes that the hitters may have been a little overwhelmed by how quickly the pitchers for Puerto Rico worked on Monday.

Source: Sponichi 3/19/2013

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Even though Japan did not make the Finals, TV Asahi is still planning to broadcast the game.  However, it will not be live -- it will be tape delayed at 12:30am on the 21st.

Source: Sanspo 3/19/2013

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A moment of silence was held before Monday's game for Cuba's Yadier Pedroso.  The twenty-six-year-old pitcher died in a car accident in Cuba on Saturday.  He was pitched in two WBC games this year.

Source: Sanspo 3/19/2013

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The new standard baseball was introduced by the NPB in 2011.  One of the goals was to make it easier for players to adjust to the baseballs used during international tournaments.  Daily Sports wonders how the new standard baseball helped players at the 2013 WBC, when many still had problems making adjustments.

Source: Daily Sports 3/19/2013

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Tickets to the Championship Round dropped significantly after the US was eliminated in the 2nd Round.  The cheapest seats in the outfield were priced at US$8.00 for the PUR-JPN game and as low as US$5.00 for the NED-DOM game.

Source: Nikkan Sports 3/19/2013

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Games from March 19

  • Wladimir Balentien (YAK/NED) vs DOM: 1-for-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 SO, 2 LOB
  • Andruw Jones (RAK/NED) vs DOM: 1-for-4, 1 SO, 2 LOB

(continue reading...)

Samurai Japan News and Notes: March 18, 2013 @ 6:49pm

by on Mar.18, 2013 @ 6:42 pm, under WBC

Koji Yamamoto on Seiichi Uchikawa getting thrown out in the 8th inning of today's game against Puerto Rico:

They had the green light for the double-steal.  It ended the way it did because [Hirokazu] Ibata got a late start.  We knew the pitchers had big motions [to the plate] so we talked about letting runners go if they felt they had a chance during a meeting.  Of course, [Shinnosuke] Abe is a slugger, and we failed to move the runners up a base, but I have no regrets.

Source: Sponichi 3/18/2013

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When the media asked Kenta Maeda if he was interested in playing in the Majors on Saturday, he replied, "That is a very difficult question to answer.  I pitched during the WBC and I think the experience I gained from playing in an international tournament was very good experience. ... It is a very difficult question.  No comment."

Source: Nikkan Sports 3/18/2013

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Batting practice during workouts on the 16th -

Sho Nakata hit six over the fence.  Source: Sponichi 3/18/2013
Yoshio Itoi hit two over the fence in right.  Source: Sanspo 3/17/2013
Shinnosuke Abe took thirty-eight swings and hit four over the fence, two over in right.  Source: Sponichi 3/18/2013
Atsunori Inaba hit one over the fence in irght.  Source: Sanspo 3/18/2013

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The team was traveling in two buses: one for players and one for players and coaches.  After practices on Saturday, the players and coaches boarded the two buses, which were parked in a row.  The players and coaches waited...  Ten minutes.  Fifteen minutes.  Twenty minutes.  The lead bus was apparently having battery problems and was in the way of the trailing bus.  Thirty minutes later, people in the lead bus were moved to the trailing bus as staff pushed the lead bus just enough so that the trailing bus could get out.

Source: Sponichi 3/18/2013, Nikkan Sports 3/18/2013

Sports Hochi posted a brief summary of the team's schedule on Saturday:

8:30am - The team is notified that their luggage was shipped to Los Angeles instead of San Francisco.
10:02am - Practice times changed from 12:00pm to 7:00pm.
5:45pm - Team bus leaves hotel.
6:00pm - Team bus arrives at AT&T Park.
6:30pm - Koji Yamamoto and Kenta Maeda press conference.
6:40pm - Player luggage arrives.
7:00pm - Practice begins.
9:00pm - Practice ends.
9:30pm - Everyone boards buses.
9:40pm - Lead bus cannot move because of battery problems.
9:50pm - Staff begins to move lead bus.
9:55pm - Coaches and about ten players in the lead bus switch places with staff sitting in the trailing bus.
9:58pm - Tow truck arrives at stadium.
10:03pm - Trailing bus leaves stadium.
10:10pm - Some staff begin to walk back to the hotel.
10:15pm - Replacement bus arrives.

The team also apparently had some problems in Arizona: they reserved about ninety rooms but only sixty were available.  About thirty staff had to stay at a separate hotel.   There was also the issue with breakfast not being prepared.  MLB Japan Jim Small apologized to Yamamoto for the mix-ups.

Source: Sports Hochi 3/18/2013