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[7/23/2014] BC League: Akinori Otsuka suspended for slapping three players

by on Jul.24, 2014 @ 12:51 am, under Independent
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The Shinano Grandserows Baseball Club of the BC League announced on Wednesday that player/manager Akinori Otsuka was suspended from all team activities, effective July 23.  According to a press release posted by the Grandserows, Otsuka went over the line with his coaching duties after a game against the Niigata Albirex Baseball Club on July 21.  The incident has been reported to the BC League.  A disciplinary hearing will be held on the 26th.

The Grandserows posted the following statement from Otsuka:

I went over the line with my duties as coach.  This kind of incident is unworthy of a coach and is something that should not be forgiven.  I regret from the bottom of my heart that it happened in front of children during a memorial game for Mikito Mizushima and his mother.

I would like to offer my deepest and sincerest apologies to all the fans and to the supporters of the league for breaking the BC League's Charter, which lists the league as being for the region and for the region's children.  I am very sorry.

Source: official announcement

[UPDATE 7/24 @ 10:01pm]

The BC League provided an update on what happened on the 21st: Otsuka slapped three players during a post-game meeting that was held in front of the dugout.  None of the players were hurt.  All three attended practices the following day.

A concerned fan contacted the league offices on the 22nd.  An internal investigation confirmed the incident.  The league will hold a disciplinary hearing on the 26th.

Source: official announcement

[UPDATE 7/27 @ 2:19am]

The BC League announced that Otsuka will be suspended for seven days (July 23-29) and fined 50,000 yen for his actions.  He will also have to participate in seven or more community service activities (outside of what the organization already does) and provide reports of his experiences.

Source: official announcement

[UPDATE 8/3 @ 12:51am]

Otsuka returned to the field for Friday's home game against the Gunma Diamond Pegasus.  He addressed the crowd before the game and apologized for his actions.

Source: Sponichi 8/2/2014

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[12/3/2013] BC League: Grandserows introduce Akinori Otsuka as their new manager

by on Dec.03, 2013 @ 9:46 pm, under Independent
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The Shinano Grandserows Baseball Club held a press conference today to introduce Akinori Otsuka as their new manager.

Former manager Tetsuji Okamoto stepped down in November to accept a job as Ni-gun manager of the Orix Buffaloes.

Source: official announcement

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[6/12/2013] BC League: Akinori Otsuka tosses batting practice

by on Jun.12, 2013 @ 4:53 pm, under Independent
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Akinori Otsuka (Shinano Grandserows) tossed batting practice during workouts at Nakano Baseball Stadium in Nagano on Tuesday.  It was the first time he faced live hitters in 2,172 days.  Otsuka had difficulty keeping his pitches down but still only gave up three could-be hits on forty-five pitches.

Source: Sponichi 6/12/2013

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[5/23/2013] Shinano to hold press conference for Otsuka on June 8

by on May.24, 2013 @ 12:32 am, under Independent

The Shinano Grandserows announced on Thursday that they will hold a press conference to introduce their newest addition, Akinori Otsuka, on June 8 at the Nakano Community Sports Center.  His name will be registered as 大塚 晶文.

Source: official announcement, Sponichi 5/23/2013

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Akinori Otsuka to sign with Shinano Grandserows in early June

by on May.18, 2013 @ 1:45 am, under Independent
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There were talks of Akinori Otsuka (41) finalizing a deal with the Shinano Grandserows later this month, but it now seems that will not happen until early June.  Otsuka still needs some more time to square things away in San Diego and Shinano's schedule later this month is full with the team heading overseas to Hawaii for the Route Inn Cup Series.

"There is no doubt that [Otsuka] has decided to sign with Shinano.  The official contract [will be signed] in early June," said team president Kesaharu Misawa.

Source: Sponichi 5/18/2013

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Akinori Otsuka looking to make a comeback in Japan

by on May.10, 2013 @ 4:10 pm, under Other

Former Buffalo Akinori Otsuka (41) is looking to make a comeback in Japan.  The Shinano Grandserows (BC League) have an interest in the veteran (there are reports that he may have already received an offer as a mid- to late-inning reliever).  If he does well, he might gain some interest from the NPB as well.

Otsuka never officially retired and kept training and rehabbing his right elbow.  He even considered switching his throwing arm (practiced throwing the ball 300 to 500 times a day and managed to work his way from a distance of four to five meters all the way to about seventy meters), but ultimately decided to stick with his right.  He was even offered a position (international scout or minor league pitching coach) by the San Diego Padres last October, but turned it down because he still wanted to play.

As the story goes, he ran a half-marathon in San Diego on March 10, 2013.  As part of his training, he ran with blind sailor Mitsuhiro Iwamoto (46) twice a week for one month before the marathon and was inspired to try one more comeback -- Otsuka promised himself he would try to throw the ball as hard as possible one more time once the marathon was over.  When he did, he felt great.  All the work he did in between helped -- at one point, he had his delivery broken down by a computer to gain insight on mechanics that would place less strain on his shoulder and elbow.

Otsuka is currently throwing at about eighty percent, off an incline, once every other day.

Source: Nikkan Sports 5/10/2013Sponichi 5/10/2013Sponichi 5/10/2013Sponichi 5/10/2013, Sanspo 5/10/2013, Daily Sports 5/10/2013


UPDATE 5/11 @ 10:22am -

Shinano Grandserow president Kaseharu Misawa told reporters on Friday, "We are close to finalizing a contract.  I think there is an eighty percent chance he will sign.  I cannot wait."

Otsuka was involved in an overseas tryout the BC League and the North American League held last winter.  Shinano signed two foreign players he recommended and were quick to show interest in the veteran.  If he signs, he will make about 200,000 yen a month.

Source: Sponichi 5/11/2013

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[3/6/2013] Hiroyuki Kobayashi to remain in US for time being, willing to sign minor league deal

by on Mar.06, 2013 @ 4:01 pm, under MLB, Other
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It seems Hiroyuki Kobayashi plans to remain in Arizona for the time being and figure out what he wants to do next by discussing things with his agent.  His first priority is to continue his playing career in the US.  He is open to signing a minor league deal.

Source: Sponichi 3/6/2013


Akinori Otsuka currently lives in San Diego but plans to return to Japan to see if he can continue his playing career with an Independent League team.

Source: Sponichi 3/6/2013

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2/28/2012: Koji Uehara, Norichika Aoki, Tsuyoshi Wada

by on Feb.28, 2012 @ 2:52 pm, under MLB
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Nikkan Sports round up for practices on Monday:

  • Koji Uehara and Yoshinori Tateyama both tossed batting practice.
  • Nochika Aoki took thirty-four swings during batting practice.
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka threw off-speed pitches during his bullpen session for the first time since his surgery.
  • Hiroki Kuroda faced five batters during batting practice and threw twenty-five pitches.


Hiroki Kuroda faced five hitters during batting practice on Monday and threw twenty-five pitches.  He is currently slated to pitch in an exhibition game against the Tampa Bay Rays on March 7.


Takashi Saito faced four hitters during batting practice on Sunday and threw thirty pitches.  Eighteen pitches went without swings and of the other twelve, two went for could-be hits.  Saito is hoping to increase the velocity on his fastball three to four miles an hour.


Norichika Aoki faced Yovani Gallardo and John Axford during batting practice on Monday.  Aoki's biggest problem during Spring Training so far has been learning English.


Eric Wedge plans to have Hisashi Iwakuma pitch two innings during an intra-squad game on February 28.  He also plans to give Munenori Kawasaki a look at second.


Tsuyoshi Wada told reporters on Monday that he felt no pain in his elbow and was able to do things as usual, save for being careful about his elbow.  His workouts for the day included general workouts with the rest of the players, running, and trunk strengthening exercises.

And while the Orioles have shut Wada down (no throwing for a few days), he said that he felt he could throw right away but would take things slowly.


If Akinori Otsuka (40) can not return to baseball this season, he will consider retirement.  Otsuka would like to continue playing baseball, but he is still having difficulty returning from right elbow problems.

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7/26/2011: Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui, Tsuyoshi Nishioka

by on Jul.26, 2011 @ 3:18 pm, under MLB
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Games from the 25th:

New York Yankees 10 - Seattle Mariners 3
Ichiro Suzuki started in right and batted first.  He went 1-for-3: strikeout swinging, sac fly to center, ground out to first, single to right (run scored).  The Mariners have now lost a franchise high 16 straight games.

Oakland A's 7 - Tampa Bay Rays 5
Hideki Matsui started in left and batted third.  He went 1-for-4: walk, fly out to right, ground out to short, single to center (run scored), ground out to first.

Texas Rangers 20 - Minnesota Twins 6
Tsuyoshi Nishioka started at short and batted ninth.  He went 0-for-4: fly out to right, ground out to third, reaches on fielding error (E5) and an RBI, ground out to third.

Cleveland Indians 3 - LA Angels 2
Hisanori Takahashi entered the game in the bottom of the 9th, with the bases loaded, 1 out, and the game tied at 2.  Takahashi  managed to retire the first batter he faced, but allowed the walk-off winning run to score on an single to right.  Final line: 0.1 IP, 2 BF, 4-2 NP-S, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO, 0 HR.  Takahashi told reporters after the game that he didn't think he was going to pitch since he assumed the closer would finish the game and that he wasn't fully prepared (or warmed up) to pitch.


Hideki Matsui was named AL Player of the Week on the 25th.  A snip from an MLB.com article:

OAKLAND -- A's designated hitter and left fielder Hideki Matsui was named the American League Player of the Week on Monday after leading the Majors last week in batting average.

Matsui hit .571 (12-for-21) for the week, and had seven RBIs while knocking two doubles and a pair of home runs -- including the 500th of his career (combined between Japan and the Major Leagues). The slugger also led the Majors with a .591 on-base percentage and was second with a .952 slugging percentage.


ESPN's Bruce Levine notes that there are at least four teams interested in Kosuke Fukudome. A snip:

With the trade deadline fast approaching, at least four teams are zeroing in on Chicago Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, according to major league sources.


The Cleveland Indians are one of several teams that have a focus on bringing in a veteran outfielder and the 34-year-old Fukudome may fit the bill.

According to a major league source, Fukudome has a limited no-trade clause in his deal which allows him to block six teams. It's unknown if the Indians are on that list.


It seems there are also four teams interested in Koji Uehara as well.  From the Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec:

The Texas Rangers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins are among the teams that have expressed interest in Uehara, who said Sunday that he definitely plans on playing in the United States next year. His family lives year round in Baltimore and that was one of the reasons Uehara signed an incentive-laden deal to return this past offseason.

"I love it here obviously," Uehara said. "I love the Baltimore Orioles, but it's not going to be any fun if we don't win. That's the dilemma."


The latest on the Hiroki Kuroda trade front, via MLB.com's Ken Gurnick:

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, the subject of increasing trade speculation, had not been asked to waive his no-trade clause for any specific club as of Monday.

"I haven't talked to Ned [Colletti, general manager] or my agent or had any meeting in recent days," said Kuroda, who would need to approve any assignment. "I haven't heard anything from anybody."

Colletti, who met with Kuroda last week and told him he would keep the pitcher informed, said Monday that no deal is imminent.


He said he's aware of the rumored destinations (the clubs most frequently mentioned are Detroit, Cleveland, Texas and the Yankees), but again wouldn't speculate on whether he would approve a deal.


Akinori Otsuka is still hoping he'll be ready to attend some tryouts during/after the summer.  A number of MLB clubs (including the San Diego Padres) have also apparently spoken to Otsuka, unofficially, about possible tryouts, assuming his elbow is 100%.

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6/10/2011: Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui, Kosuke Fukudome

by on Jun.10, 2011 @ 2:27 pm, under MLB
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Games from the 9th:

Detroit Tigers 4 - Seattle Mariners 1
Ichiro Suzuki started in right and batted first.  He went 0-for-4: ground out to second, strikeout swinging, ground out to second, strikeout swinging.  Ichiro has now been held hitless in his last three game (0-for-12).

Chicago White Sox 9 - Oakland A's 4
Hideki Matsui was the starting DH and batted sixth.  He went 2-for-4: single to right, strikeout swinging, 2-run homer (4) to right, strikeout looking.

Chicago Cubs 4 - Philadelphia Phillies 3
Kosuke Fukudome started in right and batted first.  He went 0-for-5: fly out to center, ground out to second, line out to center, ground out to second, intentional walk, strikeout swinging.


Daily Sports: Akinori Otsuka had TJ surgery on 1/9/2008.  He had three more surgeries after that in 2010.  Right now, he's a pitching coach for Samurai All Japan.  He also joined the team's pitching staff and is hoping to pitch in a game some time in July.

Otsuka got a call from Daisuke Matsuzaka for advice on TJ surgery and Otsuka told reporters the other day that he felt Matsuzaka would do just fine after going under the knife.


The latest on Takashi Saito, from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Reliever Takashi Saito, who has missed most of the season, first with a hamstring and then an oblique strain, pitched a couple of simulated innings during an afternoon workout and was pronounced ready for a minor-league rehab assignment.

Roenicke said Saito will pitch an inning Sunday for Class A Wisconsin, then make two appearances for Class AAA Nashville. If all goes well, he should rejoin the Brewers in about a week and a half.

via Nikkan Sports

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