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Hanshin Tigers: Akihito Fujii gets hit by a pitch in the face

by on Apr.11, 2012 @ 12:04 am, under NPB
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Tuesday night's game between the Hanshin Tigers and Hiroshima Carp at Mazda Stadium.

Top of the 2nd inning, runner on second, no out.  Tigers are up 2-0.

Akihito Fujii in the batter's box for Hanshin.  Kan Otake on the mound for Hiroshima.

Otake was tossed for throwing a dangerous pitch.

Fujii was carried off the field on a stretcher and was taken to the hospital where he was informed that a full check-up was necessary.  The team plans to send Fujii back to Osaka on Wednesday for testing.

Aside from Kenji Jojima and Fujii, the Tigers currently have just one other serviceable catcher on the active roster: Shinji Komiyama.

Hanshin Tigers: March 20, 2012

by on Mar.20, 2012 @ 11:58 pm, under NPB
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Today's Ni-gun game against the Chunichi Dragons, at Nagoya Stadium: Hirokazu Shiranita started the game and tossed six shutout innings while allowing three hits.  He also did not walk anyone and topped out at 144km/h. [Daily Sports] ... Shinjiro Hiyama entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the 7th inning and hit an infield single.  He was immediately replaced by a pinch-runner. [Daily Sports]

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The Tigers announced today that both Yasutomo Kubo and Kazuya Tsutsui contracted the flu.

On Monday, the players, coaches, and staff wore surgical masks as they traveled to Takamatsu.

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Sanspo reports that Tomoaki Kanemoto will make the opening day line-up in left, batting sixth.

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1st round draft pick Hayata Ito will most likely be with the Ichi-gun team for the remaining exhibition games.

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Akihito Fujii is hoping to play in as many remaining pre-season games as possible in order to shake off the rust.

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Sanspo Tigers Promise: Daiki Enokida is aiming to drop his road ERA to 2.20 or better this season (down from 4.40 last year). If Enokida can not make good on his promise, he will play catch with with a Sanspo reader.

Hanshin Tigers: March 19, 2012

by on Mar.19, 2012 @ 11:56 pm, under NPB
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Shinjiro Hiyama is scheduled to travel with the Ni-gun team on their three-game road trip against Chunichi that begins on Tuesday.

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Minoru Iwata will likely pitch in one more game before the start of the regular season: against the Seattle Mariners on March 25.

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The Tigers decided to send Takashi Shimizu to Ni-gun on Sunday to make room for Akihito Fujii.

Fujii worked out at Naruohama before heading to Marugame, Kagawa today.  He is slated to play in tomorrow's exhibition game against the Hiroshima Carp.

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Tomoaki Kanemoto temporarily returned to Osaka on Saturday and worked out at Koshien on Sunday.  He will rejoin the Ichi-gun team on Wednesday. 

Hanshin Tigers: March 18, 2012

by on Mar.18, 2012 @ 11:42 pm, under NPB
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Today's Kyoiku League game against Softbank, at Naruohama: 2nd round draft pick Hiroaki Saiuchi entered the game in the 6th and allowed a run (on a solo homer) one hit over an inning of work.  5th round draft pick Ryoma Matsuda tossed a shutout inning in relief and struck out two in a row. [Nikkan Sports]

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Randy Messenger's next start will likely be against the Hiroshima Carp (at Rexxam Stadium) on March 20.

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Tomoaki Kanemoto is scheduled to start Wednesday's game against the Hiroshima (at Kyocera Dome) in left. He did not play in today's game against Seibu and will not play in tomorrow's game against Hiroshima.

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Akihito Fujii and Shinjiro Hiyama played in a Kyoiku League game against Softbank today.  Fujii was the starting catcher and played through to the 5th inning and did not have a hit in two trips to the plate.  Hiyama entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the the 5th inning with runners on first and second and flied out to center.  He remained in the game as a DH and struck out swinging in his second at bat in the 8th.

Fujii could rejoin the Ichi-gun team on Tuesday and play in a game as early as Wednesday.

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Hiroki Uemoto started working out at Naruohama on Saturday.  Uemoto currently has his left elbow in a brace  (will need it for about three weeks) and will do exercises that focus on other parts of his body.  His workouts over the next two weeks or so will likely be limited to indoor exercises.

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Kyuji Fujikawa took a ball off his left leg during fielding practice on Saturday.  He was ok, but jokingly dragged his foot and told reporters that he was going to pitch even if his leg was broken.

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Matt Murton apparently tweaked his left hamstring during Friday's game against the Chiba Lotte Marines.  While the injury does not seem to be serious (Yutaka Wada told reporters he would be playing if this were the regular season), it is what it is and the team is playing it safe.  There is no set timetable for his return, but he could be back with the Ichi-gun sometime on or after March 21.

NOTE: Craig Brazell told reporters that while he had no interest in playing right because he was a first baseman, he would prepare accordingly since things can change during the season.

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Shunsuke returned to Osaka on Saturday because of fever (not the flu).

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Minoru Iwata worked out at the indoor training facilities at Koshien on Saturday and told reporters he really wanted more time to pitch before the start of the regular season (too much practice, not enough games).

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Takahiro Arai usually takes about eight minutes of batting practice, but on Saturday, he pushed that to about twenty minutes.

====== UPDATE @ 11:52pm JST

It seems there is a little more to the Fujikawa story...  According to Sponichi, Fujikawa was assisting with fielding practice drills by catching baseballs thrown in from fielders when Kazuya Tsutsui made an errant throw that bounced off the area above his left knee.  Fujikawa dropped to the ground and was later seen dragging his left foot around.  As he climbed into the bus he jokingly said, "I was taken out by Tsutsui.  Whatever.  I am actually ok."

Fujikawa must have really been ok since he tossed one shutout inning in relief against the Seibu Lions today.

Hanshin Tigers: March 15, 2012

by on Mar.15, 2012 @ 11:56 pm, under NPB
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Batting Practice

Wednesday

  • Situational batting practice: Akihito Fujii went 1-for-6 and Shinjiro Hiyama went 2-for-5 with a walk. (Sanspo, Sanspo)

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4th round draft pick Kazuo Ito (coming back from right shoulder discomfort) played some outdoor catch at Naruohama today -- he threw thirty baseballs about a max distance of about fifteen meters.

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Akihito Fujii is expected to play in a Kyoiuku League game on March 17.  Depending on how that goes, he could be given the green light to rejoin the Ichi-gun roster and play against the Hiroshima Carp on March 20.

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Hiroyuki Kobayashi was originally scheduled to toss three innings against the Yakult Swallows on Wednesday but instead went just two innings.  He will get to pitch his third inning against the Chiba Lotte Marines (at QVC) on Friday.

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Keiichi Hirano was back in the line-up again on Wednesday after missing two games with right knee pain.

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Of the fifteen pitches Kyuji Fujikawa threw on Wednesday, four were cutters.  He threw the pitch only a handful of times last year.  Fujikawa told reporters he does not plan to throw the cutter during the season.

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Tomoaki Kanemoto started/played left for the first time this year on Wednesday.  He is also slated to play left on the 17th, 21st, 23rd, and 24th.

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The coaches were upset that Craig Brazell did not run more aggressively into second (as in, why he did not slide) in the 2nd inning of Wednesday's game against the Yakult Swallows.  Brazell later explained that his foot got caught.

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Through Wednesday, Kenji Jojima was 9-for-19 with one homer and two RBI over eight exhibition games.

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The front office was informed on Wednesday that season ticket sales so far have come in under initial expectations.  Team owner Shinya Sakai told reporters he felt it might have something to do with the team not making any major moves during the winter, other than hire a new manager, and with the way they have played their exhibition games so far.

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Meiji University beat the Ni-gun Hanshin Tigers, 5-1, on Wednesday.  Shun Ishikawa (Meiji) hit a three-run homer off Robert Zarate in the 7th inning.

Hanshin Tigers: March 14, 2012

by on Mar.14, 2012 @ 11:59 pm, under NPB
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Batting Practice

Wednesday

  • Situational batting practice: Akihito Fujii collected one hit and a walk in five trips to the plate: single to center off Kosuke Kato. (Daily Sports)
  • Situational batting practice: Shinjiro Hiyama collected two hits and a walk in four trips to the plate: singles to center off Yusuke Kawasaki and Shingo Matsuzaki. (Daily Sports)

Tuesday

  • Shinjiro Hiyama took seventy swings during batting practice and collected twenty-one could-be hits. (Sanspo)

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The Tigers have played ten exhibition games and lost three of them by the score of 1-0.

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The Tigers will likely begin to play their veterans more often, beginning with their road trip to the Kanto area on Thursday.  That means younger players will have fewer opportunities to prove they belong on the opening day roster.

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Tomoaki Kanemoto did not play left on Tuesday because of the cold weather but did manage to play some left during today's exhibition game against the Yakult Swallows and committed a fielding error in the third inning.  He also picked up his first exhibition game RBI of the year.

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Yuya Ando's first regular season start could come on either April 1 (vs Yokohama at Kyocera Dome) or during the second series of the season (vs Yakult at Jingu, April 3-5).

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In addition to taking situational batting practice today, Akihito Fujii also got behind the plate and worked on his throws to second base.

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Shinjiro Hiyama worked out in center during fielding practices today.

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With Yuya Ando pitching well, the Tigers are now thinking about moving Hiroyuki Kobayashi back to the bullpen.  Kobayashi pitched against the Yakult Swallows today and gave up a run on one hit over two innings of work.

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The Hanshin Tigers will likely continue to give 1st round draft pick Hayata Ito a few more looks during their four-game Kanto road trip: March 15 vs Yokohama, March 16 vs Lotte, March 17 vs Yakult, and March 18 vs Seibu.

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Hiroki Uemoto was excused from practices today due to a possible injury he suffered during yesterday's exhibition game against the Yakult Swallows: while playing second base in the 6th inning, he collided with a runner trying to steal second and may have injured his left elbow; he was taken out of the game in the 7th.

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The Yakult Swallows stole four bases after the 5th inning of yesterday's exhibition game.  Battery coach Yasuo Yoshida advised Taichi Okazaki (three runners stole bases while he was catcher) to mix in waste pitches and pick-offs to keep the runners honest and to remind pitchers they should keep an eye on the runners on base.

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Kenji Jojima has been used as a pinch-hitter thirty times during his NPB career (6-for-26 with six RBI).

Hanshin Tigers: March 13, 2012

by on Mar.13, 2012 @ 11:59 pm, under NPB
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Batting Practice Bullpen Sessions / Batting Practice

Tuesday

  • Akihito Fujii took a combined ninety-three swings against a pitching machine and a live arm.  He collected twenty-eight could-be hits. (Nikkan Sports)

Monday

  • Hiroyuki Kobayashi threw fifty pitches in the bullpen. (Sanspo)

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1st round draft pick Hayato Ito went 0-for-3 with a walk today and is now 2-for-14 in exhibition games.  The Tigers still plan to give him a few more looks.

On Monday, batting coach Atsushi Kataoka spoke to Ito for about ten minutes in the hopes of helping him maintain a positive outlook on things and to give him some space to vent.

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Atsushi Nomi is scheduled to pitch five innings during his next exhibition game start on March 16 (vs Lotte).

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Hiroyuki Kobayashi is expected to start Wednesday's game against the Yakult Swallows.

Kobayashi and Yuya Ando are both competing for spots in the starting rotation.

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Yasutomo Kubo's workouts at Koshien today included playing catch and running.  Kubo pitched in his first game on March 11 against the Yomiuri Giants in relief.  He will likely start the next game he pitches.

His first regular season start could also come against the Yakult Swallows (April 3 - 5 at Jingu).

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Akihito Fujii and Shinjiro Hiyama are still scheduled to take situational batting practice on Wednesday.

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Sanspo notes that Kenji Jojima is at his ideal weight of eighty-seven kilograms.  Jojima lost about ten kilograms before re-gaining five during spring camp to reach his current eighty-seven.

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Koshien Stadium released their new list of player lunch boxes for the 2012 season.

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The Tigers attended a team rally at an Osaka hotel on Monday.  Yutaka Wada made a heated speech and finished by saying that he believed in all his players and that their one goal this season is to win.

Team owner Shinya Sakai and team president Nobuo Minami were apparently impressed/satisfied with Wada's speech.

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One Ni-gun player was diagnosed with the flu (type B) on Sunday.

====== UPDATE 3/14 @ 12:45am

Murton will be using special custom insoles made by Phiten (the same kind Kyuji Fujikawa ordered during spring camp) to help him with his right big toe problem.

FYI: There was some concern it might be gout but it seems that is no longer the case.  The team is still not sure what the problem is/was.

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Team owner Sakai told reporters on Monday that he spoke to Yokohama Bay Stars' owner Makoto Haruta on Thursday (March 8) and offered a kind warning not to take baseball lightly (not that he was).

Hanshin Tigers: March 12, 2012

by on Mar.12, 2012 @ 11:56 pm, under NPB
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The Tigers visited Nishinomiya Shrine in Hyogo today and prayed for a successful season.

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Matt Murton missed his second straight game on Sunday because of pain in his right big toe.  He did return to practices today and is expected to return to the line-up for Wednesday's exhibition game against the Yakult Swallows.

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Sunday's Kyoiku League game against Chunichi at Naruohama: Shunsuke started in center and batted first.  He went 2-for-2.  Shunsuke also played in the exhibition game at Ichi-gun. [Sanspo]

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Tomoaki Kanemoto was supposed to play left during Sunday's exhibition game against the Yomiuri Giants but did not because of the cool weather.

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Keiichi Hirano did not play in Sunday's exhibition game against the Yomiuri Giants because of a contusion he suffered on his right knee while playing defense during Saturday's game against the Nippon Ham Fighters.  Hirano is scheduled to take part in practices today and is expected to play in Tuesday's game (Yakult).

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Shinjiro Hiyama took fielding practice in the outfield at Naruohama today -- he caught twenty balls hit into the air by Ni-gun coach Yutaka Nakamura; he also wore cleats.

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Akihito Fujii did some long distance throwing (max distance of about seventy meters) on Sunday.  He is still scheduled to take situational batting practice on March 14 and 15.  If everything goes well, he could play in his first game on March 17 (Kyoiku League vs Softbank).

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Yamato may be in the lead for the starting CF job: through fifteen games (exhibition, intra-squad, an practice) he is 16-for-41.

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Sanspo seems to think that 1st round draft pick Hayata Ito may have two games (March 13 and 14, both against Yakult at Koshien) to prove he deserves more looks at Ichi-gun.  If not, he could be sent down to Ni-gun.

Ito is 6-for-33 in practice/exhibition games played through today.

Hanshin Tigers: March 11, 2012

by on Mar.11, 2012 @ 11:54 pm, under NPB
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If Atsushi Nomi gets the opening day start and wins, he will have picked up victories on opening day two years in a row.  That will make him the fifth player in franchise history (since the start of the two-league format), and first since Yuya Ando (2008-2010), to win consecutive opening day starts.

And only five other left-handed pitchers in franchise history have recorded consecutive opening day starts:

  1. Yutaka Enatsu twice: 1969-1971 and 1973-1975
  2. Koji Nakada: 1988-1989
  3. Toshiro Yufune: 1994-1995
  4. Nobuyuki Hoshino: 2000-2001
  5. Kei Igawa: 2002-2006

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Shinjiro Hiyama spent about five minutes in the batting cages (pitching machines) on Saturday.

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Akihito Fujii played catch at a distance of about sixty meters during workouts at Naruohama on Saturday.  He also threw the last three baseballs as a catcher would.

Fujii is currently slated to take part in situational batting practice on March 14 and 15.  Assuming no problems, he could play in a Kyoiku League game as early as March 17.

Hanshin Tigers: March 10, 2012

by on Mar.10, 2012 @ 11:57 pm, under NPB
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1st round draft pick Hayata Ito went 0-for-4 today in a Kyoiku League game against the Chunichi Dragons.  He was also picked off first in the 1st inning and committed an error in the 1st inning that led to a run.

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Matt Murton did not take part in pre-game practices at Koshien today due to swelling at the base of the big toe on his right foot.  He also did not play in today's exhibition game.  There are currently no plans for him to go to the hospital -- the team will continue to monitor his toe.

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A number of players, including Takashi Toritani and Kentaro Sekimoto, worked on extending their leads off first base, by a half step to a whole step, during practices on Friday.

"I could see the runners well from the third base dugout.  Softbank players had leads that were about a half step further.  And it was not just one player, but three to four of their players were close or over the dirt cut-off.  They set a good example.  I want to make use of anything that might be helpful," said Yutaka Wada.

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Atsushi Nomi could get exhibition game starts on March 16 vs Lotte and March 23 vs Orix.  And assuming Nomi gets the opening day start, he and Minoru Iwata could start games against the Yomiuri Giants during their second starts of the season (April 6 - 8 at Koshien).

Both pitchers, and Jason Standridge, pitched in today's game against the Nippon Ham Fighters.  Part of the reason why all three pitchers threw today were because they did not want to pitch them against the Yomiuri Giants tomorrow.

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Randy Messenger and Yasutomo Kubo could be the second-half of the starting rotation that pitches in the second series of the year (vs Yakult, April 3 - 5).

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Shunsuke wore a catcher's mask while taking batting practice on Friday.  Why?  It was no ordinary session -- he stood over home plate and swung at pitches head on.

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Shinjiro Hiyama could play in his first game as early as March 17: Ni-gun, Kyoiku League, vs Softbank Hawks at Naruohama.

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After swinging at about 100 pitches during soft toss batting practice on Friday, Akihito Fujii spent about seven minutes hitting baseballs thrown to him by Ikusei coach So Tsutsui.

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Kobelco Steelers' (rugby) manager Seiji Hirao visited the team offices in Nishinomiya, Hyogo on Friday.

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Former Hanshin Tiger Randy Bass attended FOODEX Japan 2012 to promote Basu's Triple Crown product line -- eight items, including jam, salsa, and beef jerky.