Some coaching staff updates for the Hanshin Tigers, from September 18, 2012:
Jitsuo Mizutani spoke to Sankei Sports on Monday and admitted that he was offered a batting coach job by the Hanshin Tigers for the 2013 season. He also said that nothing was still decided.
"It is still the middle of season and I only have opinions based on watching from behind home plate. ... They need more practice. I think everyone is reluctant. The amount of time spent on practices will increase. This not something that can be worked out mentally. They just need to swing [to get over it]. ... Everyone needs time in the day where they practice their own thing. And that is their swing. At their own home. It is something they do everyday so they need to think about how to improve their hitting. ... Respect needs to be given where it is due, but what needs to be done, needs to be done. Because the reality is that they are not hitting. I think there is no time to consider feelings. Just assume everyone is awful and start doing it. ... The [organization] needs to create more players like [Tomoaki Kanemoto]. That will become tradition.," said Mizutani.
On Takahiro Arai: "Next year will be very important. I think [Arai] knows it. He needs to come back to life again."
On Matt Murton: "[Murton] needs to go back to how he did three years ago. I am sure he made changes in an attempt to improve, but there are no results to show for. And no more talk about the strike zone. Because there is nothing that can be done about it."
Source: Sanspo 9/18/2012
Sanspo also posted a slightly more detailed interview with Mizutani.
On the offense's problems this year.
I started from last year and they have not been able to keep the line going.
The ball does not fly, the strike zone is larger. Watching from behind home plate, there are things that seem very difficult. But that can not be a reason for a lack of runs. There is no such thing as good enough when it comes to hitting. They do an ok job creating scoring opportunities, but they can not get the big hit. It has been difficult for them. In order to get to that point, they need to go back to square one and learn how to hit the most basic pitch, the fastball.
There is only practice. You can think this through. You need to swing the bat. Batting practice pitchers only throw fat pitches. So it is easy to hit the ball [using any kind of technique]. And even with good technique, if you can not hit in games then it means nothing. While they need to think about which stance is best, all of them must look powerful.
So increase the amount of practice?
That is probably what will happen. There is strength when there are a players that work on their own things. But the young players also need to come through and I think many are reluctant. Players that need to come up big next season include the players I mentioned before, like [Takahiro] Arai, [Keiichi] Hirano, and the foreign players. These guys all need to make it that kind of year. I think players will also increase their practice times on their own.
Will all players, starters, veterans, rookies, be on the same level?
Veterans need to be respected, but there are things that need to be done. There are times when things need to be considered on a case-by-case basis, but the reality is that they are not hitting. There is no time to worry about feelings. They need to do what they have to in order to win.
On the team structure.
If you are weak, then you need to work on things and improve your level one by one. Players like Yamato and [Hiroki] Uemoto are not worth a single person, or half-a-person. There are a lot [of players] with expectations. The next steps toward becoming an everyday player are difficult. And it comes out when these guys talk. Yamato, Uemoto, and even [Ryota] Arai. Up until now, the Tigers' offense was just about hitting. But any team also needs speed. So in that sense, those two guys have speed. So for example, it would be nice if Yamato or Uemoto could steal thirty bases. So they have a goal to reach thirty stolen bases. That means they need to get on base. Speed alone is not good enough. That is the kind of player they need to become. When the team begins to slump, the offense needs to change. Especially because this is not the type of offense that hits a lot. And the two players I mentioned have speed.
[Ryota] Arai has potential. He has good bat speed and he has shown a strong swing against fastballs.
What about [Hayata] Ito?
[Ito] has skills. He is a little tight on the grip. He needs to stick out during times like this. It is no good if he is having good games and bad games in the Western League.
What about a clean-up hitter?
Right now, this team does not have one. It is difficult creating a team and Hanshin pulls in a lot of fans. The managers needs to stand in front. They need to win while the young players develop. I do not know which player that will be. They also need to develop players that are do better in their second or third year.
In thinking in that regard, they can not all be friends. Those that try to run away need to be pulled back in force to stand their ground. I think the Tigers are like this right now. [Takahiro] Arai will need to work hard next year. He has missed out on a lot of opportunities. And I think he knows it. He needs to come back to life again. This may be his worst offensive year.
Katsuo Hirata will reportedly be offered a job as Ni-gun manager for the 2013 season. Current Ni-gun manager Haruki Yoshitake could be promoted to Ichi-gun fielding / base-running coach (third base). Outfield / base-running coach Koichi Sekikawa could assist Mizutani as a second batting coach. Source: Sanspo 9/18/2012, Sports Hochi 9/18/2012, Sponichi 9/18/2012, Daily Sports 9/18/2012
UPDATE @ 10:15pm - Both Mizutani and Hirata have reportedly already received offers from the team and both are planning to accept. Source: Sponichi 9/18/2012