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Samurai Japan News and Notes: March 17, 2013 @ 5:10pm

by on Mar.17, 2013 @ 5:11 pm, under WBC

Two team buses were escorted by police motorcycles on the way to the airport in Arizona on Friday. The team arrived in San Francisco at around 9:00pm and checked into a four-star hotel.

Source: Sanspo 3/17/2013

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Things did not go very smoothly for the team on Saturday: workouts had to be pushed back from 12:00pm to 7:00pm because the team luggage ended up in Los Angeles (apparently a mistake made by the staff); and players had to wait around for thirty minutes after practices because their bus was having problems (it ultimately had to be replaced by a new bus).

Source: Daily Sports 3/17/2013

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The team held evening workouts at AT&T Park on Saturday. They checked on how the wind affects balls hit into the air, as well as how balls bounce off the outfield walls.

Source: Sports Hochi 3/17/2013

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Masahiko Morifuku did not pitch in the practice game against the Chicago Cubs on the 15th because of tightness in his left shoulder. He told reporters he was fine, but it is uncertain if he will be able to pitch in the Championship Round.

Source: Sanspo 3/17/2013, Nikkan Sports 3/17/2013

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The only sure relievers for the Championship Tournament could be Toshiya Sugiuchi, Atsushi Nomi, and Kazuhisa Makita. Tadashi Settsu could also provide some long relief if either Kenta Maeda or Masahiro Tanaka falter early on.

Source: Sports Hochi 3/17/2013

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With Hisayoshi Chono struggling with his consistency at the plate, Nobuhiro Matsuda could become the favorite to bat lead-off when the opposition starts a left-handed pitcher.

Hayato Sakamoto and Yoshio Itoi will likely flip-flop in the five and six holes depending on which side the opposition's starting pitcher is throwing from.

Source: Nikkan Sports 3/17/2013, Daily Sports 3/17/2013

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Takashi Toritani may only end up playing second during the Championship Round.

Source: Nikkan Sports 3/17/2013

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On the charter flight to Tokyo from Arizona, the two youngest players on the roster, Takeru Imamura and Sho Nakata, sat in economy class while the rest of the team sat in business class.

Source: Nikkan Sports 3/17/2013

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Samurai Japan special adviser Sadaharu Oh and Samurai Japan Senior Adviser Tatsunori Hara left for San Francisco out of the Haneda Airport early on Sunday morning.

Source: Sponichi 3/17/2013

Oh and Hara will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on the 17th.

Source: Sponichi 3/17/2013

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Hisashi Iwakuma caught the Japan-Chicago Cubs game with his family on the 15th.

Source: Sponichi 3/17/2013

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Another WBC championship for Japan could have an economic impact of about 45.5 billion yen, according to Kansai University Graduate School professor Katsuhiro Miyamoto. The estimate is about 5 billion yen less than after the 2009 WBC because of the lack of MLB players like Ichiro Suzuki and Yu Darvish.

2013: 45,490,430,000 yen
2009: 50,554,050,000 yen

Source: Sponichi 3/17/2013

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Games from March 17

  • Orlando Roman (YAK/PUR) vs DOM: 85-51 NP-S, 19 BF, 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO, 1 HR.

Samurai Japan News and Notes: March 16, 2013 @ 2:45pm

by on Mar.16, 2013 @ 2:45 pm, under WBC

The Chicago Cubs beat Japan 7-5.  The box score can be found at the MLB.com website.

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Kenta Maeda threw about fifty pitches in the bullpen on Friday.

Source: Nikkan Sports 3/16/2013

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Atsushi Nomi topped out at 150km/h during Thursday's practice game against San Francisco.

Source: Daily Sports 3/16/2013

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Some of the players went without breakfast the other day (Thursday or Friday) due to some sort of a misunderstanding -- food was not prepared at either the team hotel or the stadium.  Last minute arrangements were made, but some players started practices without eating.

Source: Nikkan Sports 3/16/2013

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Former Yomiuri Giant Marc Kroon and former Chunichi Dragon Jim Marshall visited the team on Thursday.

Source: Sanspo 3/16/2013

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About fifty scouts from the US and Japan were at the practice game on Thursday.

MLB scouts have been checking on players like Masahiro Tanaka, Takashi Toritani, and Yoshio Itoi.

Sho Nakata, Hayato Sakamoto, Kenta Maeda, Kenji Otonari, and Tetsuya Utsumi were also getting checked out.

Source: Sanspo 3/16/2013, Nikkan Sports 3/16/2013

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The Netherlands beat the Seattle Mariners 6-1. The box score is at the MLB.com website.

Samurai Japan News and Notes: March 15, 2013 @ 5:45pm

by on Mar.15, 2013 @ 5:45 pm, under WBC

Japan beat the San Francisco Giants 6-3.  Box scores can be found at the MLB.com website.

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Kenta Maeda is currently not scheduled to pitch until the semifinals game.  A lot of scouts and reporters in the US appear to be interested in him.

Source: Sanspo 3/15/2013

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Koji Yamamoto told reporters after Thursday's practice game against the Giants that if the team made the Finals, there was a very good chance Masahiro Tanaka would get the start.

Source: Sanspo 3/15/2013, Sponichi 3/15/2013

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Astushi Nomi was the only pitcher that tossed a bullpen session on Wednesday (fifty pitches).

Source: Sponichi 3/15/2013, Daily Sports 3/15/2013

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Hisayoshi Chono and Takashi Toritani could platoon the lead-off spot.  Toritani was at the top of the line-up with RHP Yusmeiro Petit starting for the Giants.  Chono will likely be at the top of the line-up on Friday with LHP Travis Wood most likely starting for the Chicago Cubs.

If Toritani leads off, Chono could drop down to the seven hole.  If Chono leads off, Toritani could drop to the eight hole.

Source: Sanspo 3/14/2013, Sponichi 3/14/2013, Sanspo 3/15/2013, Nikkan Sports 3/15/2013, Sponichi 3/15/20103, Daily Sports 3/15/2013Sanspo 3/15/2013, Daily Sports 3/15/2013, Sports Hochi 3/15/2013

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Sho Nakata is back to swinging with a high leg kick.  Batting coach Kazuyoshi Tatsunami has been pushing more of a slide step, but also understands that comfort is important and is fine with the high leg kick, so long as he does not lunge.

Nakata used the high leg kick and hit three over the fence during batting practice at Scottsdale Stadium on Wednesday.

Source: Nikkan Sports 3/15/2013, Sponichi 3/15/2013, Sports Hochi 3/15/2013

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Shinnosuke Abe exchanged bats with San Francisco Giant catcher Buster Posey.

Source: Nikkan Sports 3/15/2013

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Depending on how cold it is in San Francisco, the team may prepare long coats, disposable cairos (warmers), air heaters, and gloves.

Source: Nikkan Sports 3/15/2013

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Daisuke Matsuzaka, Kyuji Fujikawa, Hisashi Iwakuma, and Hiroyuki Nakajima were special guests at a Samurai Japan dinner gathering at Don & Charlie's in Scottsdale, AZ on the 13th (US time).  Yu Darvish and Norichika Aoki could not make it.

The team had a chance to tour Chase Field before the dinner gathering.

Source: Sanspo 3/15/2013, Sponichi 3/15/2013, Sponichi 3/15/2013Sports Hochi 3/15/2013

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TBS provided a tape delayed broadcast of the San Francisco Giants game earlier today.

The Chicago Cubs game will be carried live by J Sports 3 at 5:00am on the 16th.  A taped recording will be show by TBS at 4:00pm.

Source: Sanspo 3/15/2013

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The Netherlands beat the San Diego Padres 9-3.  Box scores are at the MLB.com website.

Samurai Japan News and Notes: March 14, 2013 @ 5:00pm

by on Mar.14, 2013 @ 5:00 pm, under WBC
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The team's first US workouts took place in Scottsdale, AZ on Wednesday and lasted about two and a half hours.

Samurai Japan is scheduled to play practice games against the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium on Thursday and the Chicago Cubs at HoHoKam Park on Friday.  Masahiro Tanaka is expected to start the game on Thursday and pitch an inning or two.  If he does poorly, Toshiya Sugiuchi could become the front-runner to start the Finals game (assuming Japan makes it).

Source: Sanspo 3/14/2013, Sponichi 3/14/2013, Sponichi 3/14/2013

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The team's airplane arrived in Phoenix on Tuesday night at around 9:30pm.  A motorcycle police escort led three buses to the team hotel, located about an hour away from the airport.

Sanspo figures pitchers will need to overcome three major obstacles: the dry air, changes in temperature, and a lack of MLB experience.

Source: Sanspo 3/14/2013, Sanspo 3/14/2013, Nikkan Sports 3/14/2013, Daily Sports 2/14/2013

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Hisayoshi Chono, Nobuhiro Matsuda, and Sho Nakata could end up competing for the seven and nine spots in the batting order.

Takashi Toritani and Hirokazu Ibata, will likely start things off at the top of the line-up.  Hayato Sakamoto and Atsunori Inaba will likely stay in the six and eight slots.

Source: Sponichi 3/14/2013, Sponichi 3/14/2013

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Ibata considered retiring after he struggled with a second bout of ocular herpes in 2010 that limited him to just fifty-three regular season games.

Source: Sponichi 3/14/2013

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Atsushi Nomi and Toshiya Sugiuchi could hold the keys, especially since other relief options, like Masahiko Morifuku, Takeru Imamura, and Tetsuya Yamaguchi, have struggled.  They also offer some flexibility: if necessary, they could be pushed to the maximum number of allowed pitches and provide a straight bridge from starter to closer, or even pitch straight until the end.

Source: Sanspo 3/14/2013, Sports Hochi 3/14/2013

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If you go to a game, you might see the MaeKen Taiso (Maeda Kenta Warm-up).

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INF/base-running coach Nobuhiro Takashiro was not planning to wear his red victory underwear until the Championship Round.  The media learned the other day that he actually started wearing them on the 8th (the team's first game in the 2nd Round).  He also wore them on the 10th and 12th.  The red underwear are now 5-0 in five tournament games (including semifinals and finals from 2009).

Source: Sports Hochi 3/14/0213

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Nippon Hoso has exclusive live radio broadcast rights for the Championship Round.

Semifinals - broadcast begins at 10:00am on the 18th with Hiroki Nomura as a guest commentator.
Finals (if Japan makes it) - broadcast begins at 9:00am on the 20th with Takenori Emoto as a guest commentator.

Source: Sanspo 3/14/2013

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Unlike previous WBC tournaments, the NPB has not received much of any complaints from fans this time around.

Source: Sanspo 3/14/2013

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The team is staying at a four-star hotel in Phoenix.  The cheapest room costs about US$320 a night.

Source: Sanspo 3/14/2013

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The H.I.S. WBC tour package sold well and cost between 194,000 and 269,000 yen.

RoundTrip's WBC tour package also sold well with their cheapest plan starting at 220,000 yen.

Source: Sanspo 3/14/2013, H.I.S. site, RoundTrip

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Games from March 13

  • Alex Maestri (ORI/ITA) vs PUR: 68-43 NP-S, 18 BF,  4.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO.

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Samurai Japan News and Notes: March 13, 2013 @ 4:30pm

by on Mar.13, 2013 @ 4:30 pm, under WBC

Samurai Japan left for the US out of Haneda Airport on a chartered flight early this morning (around 1:00am).  They arrived in Phoenix, AZ on Tuesday (US time).

Source: Sanspo 3/13/2013, Sponichi 3/13/2013, Sponichi 3/13/2013

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If Japan advances to the Finals, there is a good chance Masahiro Tanaka will start the game.

Source: Sanspo 3/13/2013, Nikkan Sports 3/13/2013

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As of now, Atsushi Nomi will most likely be used out of the bullpen during the Championship Round.

Source: Daily Sports 3/13/2013

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Shinnosuke Abe is the first player in tournament history to hit two home runs in one inning.  There have been ten other cases where a player homered twice in one game.

Source: Sponichi 3/13/2013

Abe will celebrate his thirty-fourth birthday on March 20.

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Hisayoshi Chono collected five RBIs on Tuesday night and tied the tournament record most RBIs in a game by a Japanese player.  Tsuyoshi Nishioka drove in five runs in one game in 2006.  Ken Griffey holds the overall tournament record with seven RBIs in one game in 2006.

Source: Sponichi 3/13/2013

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Sho Nakata went back to using the high leg kick when swinging the bat on Tuesday.

Source: Sponichi 3/13/2013

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The players and coaches threw autographed baseballs into the stands after Tuesday's game.

Source: Sponichi 3/13/2013

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Since Japan finished in first place, they will play their first game on the first day of the Championship Round.  That will give them one day before the Finals game.  According to the rules, as long as they keep pitchers under forty-nine pitches, they will be able to pitch again in the Finals game.

Source: Sponichi 3/13/2013

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Netherlands

Wladimir Balentien had his left leg examined at a hospital in Tokyo on Tuesday and was told he needed three to four days of rest (he almost suffered a hamstring strain).  He should be able ok to play in the Championship Round.

Source: Sanspo 3/13/2013, Nikkan Sports 3/13/2013

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Games from March 11

NPB Players on WBC Teams

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

Samurai Japan News and Notes: March 12, 2013 @ 4:23pm

by on Mar.12, 2013 @ 4:23 pm, under WBC

Atsushi Nomi could move to the bullpen for the Championship Rounds.

Source: Daily Sports 3/12/2013

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If Japan makes it to the Finals, there is a good chance Masahiro Tanaka will make an appearance in the game.

Kenta Maeda is slated to start the Semifinals game.

Source: Daily Sports 3/12/2013, Sponichi 3/12/2013

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Meada is currently not scheduled to pitch in any of the practice games in the US.

Nomi could be the pitcher that relieves Maeda in the Semifinals games.

Source: Sponichi 3/12/2013

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Tanaka is thinking about scrapping the slider during the WBC because he has had a hard time throwing it.  He plans to test new strategies based on how well he is able to grip the ball when the team shifts locations to the US.

Both Tanaka and Toshiya Sugiuchi are slated to pitch in a practice game against the San Francisco Giants (Scottsdale, AZ) on the 14th.

Source: Sponichi 3/12/2013

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Yoshio Itoi did not participate in workouts on Monday.  He may not be in the starting line-up tonight.  Itoi may be feeling the effects of an HBP he took off his right leg in the 7th inning of Sunday's game against the Netherlands.

Source: Nikkan Sports 3/12/2013

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Takashi Toritani and Hirokazu Ibata will remain at the top of the line-up.

Source: Daily Sports 3/12/2013, Sanspo 3/12/2013, Sports Hochi 3/12/2013

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Koji Yamamoto wants to win tonight's game, but also plans to use players based on need -- players that are slumping will get a chance to start, players that are banged up will get a chance to rest, and players that have not had a lot of playing time will get to play.  That means players like Hisayoshi Chono, Katsuya KakunakaYuichi Honda, and Ginjiro Sumitani should make it into tonight's game (either as starters or as replacements).  Shinnosuke Abe will likely be the starting DH.

Source: Daily Sports 3/12/2013, Sponichi 3/12/2013, Nikkan Sports 3/12/2013

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Sho Nakata may pick his spots and temporarily go back to his high leg-kick approach to hitting tonight -- he is having some difficultly with the smaller leg kick and is not able to generate as much power.  Batting coach Kazuyoshi Tatsunami told Nakata he can try to the high leg-kick again, but only if he promises to let it go if it does not work out for him.

Source: Daily Sports 3/12/2013, Sponichi 3/12/2013, Nikkan Sports 3/12/2013, Sports Hochi 3/12/2013

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Ibata could have a chance to play some short tonight.

Source: Daily Sports 3/12/2013

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Everyone will more or less continue to have the green light to run during the Championship Round, unless otherwise told.

Source: Sponichi 3/12/2013

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Kyuji Fujikawa (CHN) and Hisanori Takahashi (CHN) are currently not scheduled to pitch in the practice game against Japan on the 15th.

Source: Sanspo 3/12/2013

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Some of the Japanese MLB players are planning to meet up with members of Samurai Japan once they arrive in the US.

Source: Sanspo 3/12/2013, Nikkan Sports 3/12/2013, Nikkan Sports 3/12/2013

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When Yamamoto signed on as manager of Samurai Japan, he asked for and agreed to a contract that ended in late March.  He requested a short contract because he wanted to focus on making it to the Championship Round.  The twelve NPB teams are happy with how things have gone so far and are planning to offer him an extension once the tournament ends.  The teams are hoping Yamamoto will help put together the team that competes at the Premium 12 tournament in 2015.

Source: Sponichi 3/12/2013

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Travel agencies like H.I.S. and RoundTrip started receiving calls about WBC tour packages on Monday morning.

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Netherlands

Sanspo notes that Wladimir Balentien will probably sit out tonight's game against Japan after tweaking his left hamstring while running the bases during Monday's game against Cuba.  Nikkan Sports mentions that the team will wait to make a decision until they see how he is feeling today.

Source: Sanspo 3/12/2013, Nikkan Sports 3/12/2013

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The WBC attracted a tournament high 463,017 fans in the First Round.  The previous record of 453,374 was set in 2009.

Source: Nikkan Sports 3/12/2013, WBC.com 3/11/2013

Samurai Japan News and Notes: March 11, 2013 @ 11:26pm

by on Mar.11, 2013 @ 11:26 pm, under WBC
Tags:

The team held a moment of silence before practices at Tokyo Dome today to mark the two-year anniversary of the March 11 Tohoku Earthquake.

Workouts began at 11:00am and were optional.

Source: Sanspo 3/11/2013, Nikkan Sports 3/11/2013

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Kenji Otonari is scheduled to start Tuesday's game.

Source: Sponichi 3/11/2013

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Hayato Sakamoto's workouts at Tokyo Dome today include trunk strengthening exercises.

Kenta Maeda and Masahiro Tanaka also worked out at the stadium.

Source: Nikkan Sports 3/11/2013, Nikkan Sports 3/11/2013

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Hirokazu Ibata credits his current performance to two things: running and a 200-pitch soft-toss batting practice session from March 1.

Source: Sanspo 3/11/2013

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Takashi Toritani is using a 34.5-inch bat right now, one-inch longer than the one he used last season.

His lead-off home run on Sunday was his first hit of the tournament (thirteenth trip to the plate).

Source: Sponichi 3/11/2013

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Shinnosuke Abe has been using a one-kilogram training batDae-Ho Lee (ORI/KOR) sent him after the 1st Round.

Source: Sports Hochi 3/11/2013

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Kazuhisa Makita felt some tightness in his back/left side the day after he made a diving catch.  He felt much better after a massage and told reporters he was fine.

Source: Sponichi 3/11/2013

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Samurai Japan will take a chartered flight to Arizona after they play the final game of the 2nd Round on Tuesday.  They will play two practice games (San Francisco Giants on the 14th and Chicago Cubs on the 15th) before they move on to San Francisco on the 15th (US time).

Source: Sanspo 3/11/2013, Sponichi 3/11/2013

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Shigeo Nagashima visited Koji Yamamoto before Sunday's game and presented with a special Japan flag pin (white in diamonds/red in rubies) pin badge.  He gave similar pins to Sadaharu Oh and Tatsunori Hara during the first and second WBCs.

Source: Sanspo 3/10/2013, Sponichi 3/11/2013

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Sadaharu Oh and Tatsunori Hara are scheduled to watch the Championship Rounds in the US.

Hara will leave for the US after an exhibition game against Seibu on the 16th and return on the 21st.  Yomiuri head coach Masahiro Kawai will take over as interim manager while Hara is away.

Source: Sponichi 3/11/2013, Nikkan Sports 3/11/2013

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Records Japan set/tied/broke on Sunday:

  • Including innings eight through ten Friday (vs TPE), Japan has scored at least one run in their last ten consecutive innings.
  • The six home runs in one game tied a tournament record set by Cuba in 2009.  In that 2009 game, five players -- Frederich Cepeda (two), Alfredo Despaigne (one), Hector Olivera (one), Yuliesky Gourriel (one), and Yoennis Cespedes (one) -- accounted for the six home runs.  In Sunday's game, six different players each hit one home run.
  • Japan is the first team in tournament history to hit a home run in four straight innings and to hit for the home run cycle (solo, two-run, three-run, grand slam).
  • Set a new team record with seventeen hits.  The previous high of fifteen was set four times.  The tournament record of twenty-two hits was set by Australia in 2009.
  • At forty years and seven month, Atsunori Inaba set a new tournament record on Sunday for oldest player to hit a home run.  The previous record of thirty-nine years and eight months was set by Moises Alou during the 2006 WBC.
  • Takashi Toritani joined Ichiro Suzuki as just the second Japanese player to hit a home run to lead-off a tournament game.
  • Maeda Kenta struck out nine and set a new tournament record for a Japanese player.  The previous high of eight was set by Koji Uehara (2006) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (2009).  The tournament record of ten, for all players, was set by Ubaldo Jimenez in 2009.
  • Set a new record with ten extra base hits.  The previous record of nine was held by three teams.
  • Set a new record with thirty-nine total bases.  The previous record of thirty-four was set by Australia in 2009.

Source: Nikkan Sports 3/11/2013, NIkkan Sports 3/11/2013, Sports Hochi 3/11/2013

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A moment of silence to mark the two-year anniversary of the Tohoku Earthquake was held before tonight's game between Cuba and the Netherlands.

Source: Daily Sports 3/11/2013

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Cuba

The team held practices at Tokyo Dome on Sunday.  Workouts were light and lasted about ninety minutes.  Players were also once against seen working on bunts and slash bunts.

Source: Sponichi 3/11/2013

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Netherlands

Wladimir Balentien appeared to tweak his left leg while running the bases in the 3rd inning.  He remained in the game but was later removed on defense in the 3rd.

Source: Sanspo 3/11/2013

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Games from March 10

NPB Players on WBC Teams

  • Wil Ledezma (LOT/VEN) vs ESP: 22-16 NP-S, 6 BF, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO.
  • Dustin Molleken (HAM/CAN) vs USA: 19-16 NP-S, 7 BF, 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO.
  • Scott Mathieson (YOM/CAN) vs USA: 20-10 NP-S, 5 BF, 0.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO.

(continue reading...)