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Hanshin Tigers: March 3, 2012

by on Mar.04, 2012 @ 3:40 am, under NPB
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Tomoaki Kanemoto, Kenji Jojima, Takahiro Arai, Craig Brazell, Atsushi Nomi and Jason Strandridge were part of the group that stayed behind and worked out at Koshien Stadium on Saturday.

Kanemoto faced Nomi during batting practice and hit a 2-2 fastball over the fence in right.

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Jojima wants to play in every remaining exhibition game on the schedule, beginning from the game on March 6, because he feels that will be the best way to learn how to play first base.

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Yutaka Wada told reporters on Friday that he may use a combination of catchers (from the group of Shinji Komiyama, Taichi Okazaki, and Takashi Shimizu) while Akihito Fujii recovers from a left oblique injury.

Said Wada, "Hypothetically speaking, if there are only three catchers, I have an image that it might be better to use this catcher at the end and this other catcher at the beginning.  I would like to test those things out."

Wada is also hoping to find out if one or two of the catchers can step up and catch once or twice a week in order to spell Fujii.

It should also be noted that Wada plans to place more emphasis on defense rather than offense.  Ryo Asai is also spending some time getting re-acclimated to catching, just in case.

And speaking of Fujii, he received treatment at Naruohama on Friday and told reporters that he was feeling better and that he was glad they caught the problem before it got worse.  The team will monitor Fujii over the next few days to see how things go and will adjust his training/rehab schedule accordingly.

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Kyuji Fujikawa is looking forward to facing Dae-Ho Lee (ORI) on Sunday.  The two previously met during the 2008 Olympics and the 2009 WBC: three plate appearances, two walks and one fly out to center.

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Since Kazuhito Futagami did not pitch on Saturday, he will most likely pitch on Sunday (he is supposed to pitch in one of the two games).

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Masahiro Nakatani caught a bullpen session at Naruohama on Friday.

Said Ni-gun manager Haruki Yoshitake, "[Nakatani] is an outfielder.  But we only have two catchers at Ni-gun right now so we are preparing him just in case something happens to one of them."

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Wada would like to bat Matt Murton lead-off but is also testing other combinations, like Takashi Toritani first and Murton third.

Hanshin Tigers: February 17, 2012

by on Feb.17, 2012 @ 11:51 pm, under NPB
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Batting Practice Bullpen Sessions / Batting Practice

Friday

  • Tomoaki Kanemoto hit a double to center off Yuya Ando during situational batting practice today. (Sponichi)
  • With runners on first and third and one out, 1st round draft pick Hayata Ito laid down a successful squeeze bunt during situational batting practice. (Nikkan Sports)

Thursday

  • Tomoaki Kanemoto took 152 swings during extra batting practice.  Many of the batted balls were between left and center -- according to Sanspo, he did not try to pull the ball until after his 136th swing. (Sponichi, Sanspo)

Friday

  • Jason Standridge faced eleven batters during situational batting practice and did not allow a hit. (Sanspo)

Thursday

  • Minoru Iwata faced six batters during batting practice and allowed one could-be hit on forty-three pitches. (Sports Hochi Osaka, Sanspo)  Or forty-two pitches (fastball, sliders, two-seamers), of which thirty were strikes, and eleven were infield grounders. (Nikkan Sports)
  • Atsushi Nomi faced six batters during batting practice and allowed eight could-be hits on forty-five pitches. (Sanspo)
  • Yasutomo Kubo faced five batters during batting practice and allowed seven could-be hits on forty-two pitches.  It was Kubo's first outing as a batting practice pitcher during spring camp. (Sanspo)
  • Ken Nishimura gave up six could-be hits on thirty-four pitches during batting practice.  This was his second outing as a batting practice pitcher. (Sanspo)
  • Kazuhito Futagami threw 135 pitches in the bullpen. (Sanspo)
  • 4th round draft pick Kazuo Ito threw eighty-nine pitches in the bullpen. (Sanspo)

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Hanshin OB visited Ginoza camp today.  Katsuya Nomura also visited Ginoza camp today.

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Minoru Iwata is scheduled to pitch in an intra-squad game on February 23.  Other pitchers like Atsushi Nomi and Kyuji Fujikawa are also expected to make appearances during the game.

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4th round draft pick Kazuo Ito will get to pitch at least one inning in relief during a practice game against Orix on Saturday.

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Kenji Jojima and Craig Brazell took extra indoor fielding practice at first, on the artificial turf at Ginoza Dome, on Thursday.

FYI: It took INF/base-running coach Teruyoshi Kuji about twenty minutes to hit 130 baseballs to Jojima and Brazell.  And it was Jojima that asked Kuji to help him check on ball movement on artificial turf -- Brazell jumped in on his own.

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During sliding exercises on Thursday, Hiroki Uemoto had to slide underneath a bat that Yutaka Wada swung.

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Tomoaki Kanemoto could play in his first game on February 19 (exhibition game vs Yomiuri).  If Kanemoto is able to play in a game in February, it will be a first since 2/24/2002.

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With help from Keiichi Yabu, Kazuhito Futagami worked on his fork and change during his bullpen session on Thursday.

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Kimiyasu Kudo visited Ginoza camp on Thursday.

Hanshin Tigers News and Notes: December 21, 2010

by on Dec.21, 2010 @ 12:38 pm, under NPB
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Akinobu Mayumi would like to see Keiichi Yabu help develop the next Takumi Akiyama (in other words, help improve the development of high school talent like Shinta Hifumi and Akira Iwamoto).

Mayumi also said that he wanted to have a good idea of what the opening day roster was going to be like by 3/16.  That means players will have about 12 exhibition games (2/26 - 3/14) to show that they're good enough for the active roster.  Foreign players will also be pulled into exhibition games early on to give them enough time to prepare for the regular season.

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Batting coach Yutaka Wada told reporters that he plans on pushing young players hard during spring camp -- they'll be fully steeped in baseball and nothing but baseball.  The Tigers also have two practice games scheduled during their Okinawa leg of spring camp -- veterans will be allowed to skip these games but youngsters will be required to play in them.

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Ken Nishimura is hoping that he'll be able to work with Yabu again.  Nishimura met Yabu in Arizona in October 2009 and was given some pitching tips that apparently stuck.

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Yasutomo Kubo has one of the quicker motions to the plate. Kubo was also the only pitcher that threw enough innings to qualify for pitching titles and not allow any stolen bases.  On Monday, Kubo told reporters that he actually wanted runners to run.

"The ideal situation would be to give the runners the perception that they can go and then throw them out," said Kubo.  "I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing, but picking runners off is a lot easier than getting batters out.  I think about those kinds of things every now and again."

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Kazuhito Futagami spent Monday morning working out (running and playing catch) at Naruohama.

Said Futagami, "I couldn't really do much this season so I want to make sure I'm physically ready for the 2011 season."

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Hirotaka Egusa threw 50 pitches to a standing catcher in the Naruohama bullpen on Monday.

"I'm feeling great," said Egusa.  "Getting my shoulder back to normal and being able to pitch is very important [for me right now].  I want to start pitching again."

Hanshin Tigers News and Notes: December 18, 2010

by on Dec.18, 2010 @ 1:45 pm, under NPB
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Kyuji Fujikawa is on track to earn his international FA option during the 2012 season.  And for at least the next 2 years, Fujikawa won't necessarily push the Tigers to post him (although he'll probably continue to bring it up during negotiations with the club, as he has each year since the 2007 off-season).

As mentioned yesterday, the Tigers have no desire to post Fujikawa, even if the team happens to win a championship in 2011.

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Kenji Jojima did his rehab training at Koshien on Friday (it was his second consecutive day at Koshien).  Seems part of his training involved standing on his left foot and squatting down with just the one leg.  And according to Daily Sports, Jojima is only thinking about rehab his left knee right now and won't be meeting with the front office to talk contract until January (Jojima is still under contract and his salary isn't expected to change much, if any, since it's not a variable salary, but he still needs to sign a contract for the 2011 season).

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Kazuhito Futagami told reporters on Friday that even though he respected Ni-gun pitching coach Keiichi Yabu and planned on asking him for advice, he also didn't plan on listening to everything he said.

Said Futagami, "I'll listen to what he has to say because he's someone that has gone through a lot, and I think listening would end up being a good things.  But, I'm not going to listen to everything he says, instead, I'll take what I need after thinking things through myself, otherwise it'll never stick."

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Owner Shinya Sakai told reporters that he was thinking about dropping by Ni-gun spring camp next year, maybe even stay over a night, in order to see how things are going (with new Ni-gun manager Haruki Yoshitake and Ni-gun pitching coach Yabu).

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Team president Nobuo Minami is hoping Ni-gun pitching coach Yabu will help the team come up with some sort of a "manual" for pitchers.  The Tigers apparently got hold of a training tape for pitchers in the 90's that contained a bunch of information on the basics of pitching (it even had a section that detailed Nolan Ryan's pitching mechanics).  The team would like Yabu to help the team come up with something similar, something that can be passed down even with pitching coaches end up loading (for one reason or another).

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Takahiro Arai was a guest on ABC Radio's Sports-ni Pittato Friday.

Hanshin Tigers News and Notes: November 17, 2010

by on Nov.17, 2010 @ 12:46 pm, under NPB
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Kazuhito Futagami tossed 30 pitches (just fastballs) to a squatting catcher on Tuesday.  It was the first time Futagami threw to a squatting catcher since hurting his right elbow.

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Yusuke Kawasaki faced lefties during a simulated game on Tuesday (18 in all) and gave up 5 hits and struck out 1.

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Robert Zarate apparently caught a cold and spent the day getting checked out a hospital on Tuesday.  Seems he doesn't have a fever but does have a sore throat.

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Since being discharged from the hospital on the 12th (after surgery on the 9th), Kenji Jojima has been rehabbing his left knee in a "secret" location -- seems the club even asked Jojima to keep his rehab work outs and training location a secret.  But according to an unnamed source, Jojima is apparently working out in Kyushu.

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Now that Kentaro Sekimoto has a 3-year deal, Akinobu Mayumi issued a challenge to Sekimoto to win the starting second base job (or any starting position).

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The Tigers held a 5,000m run during practice on Tuesday.  Naoto Tsuru finished in first with a time of 19m 3s, 19 seconds faster than the second place finisher, Takumi Akiyama.

Incidentally, it seems Akiyama is a candidate for opening day starter.  If Akiyama does end up the opening day starter, that would make him the 5th pitcher under 20 in club history to get the opening day start and the first pitcher under 20 to get the job since Kazunori Nishimura in 1955.  Seems Daisuke Matsuzaka was the last pitcher under 20 in the NPB to get an opening day start (2000).

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As expected, Yuya Ando will not be exercising his FA option.

Hanshin Tigers News and Notes: November 14, 2010

by on Nov.14, 2010 @ 3:04 pm, under NPB
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Kazuhito Futagami tossed 50 pitches to a standing catcher in the bullpen at Naruohama yesterday, his first session since his right elbow injury.  Futagami concentrated on throwing the last 30 pitches down low using about 70-80% of his strength.  Said Futagami, "I did feel any discomfort while throwing.  I'll be able to pitch to a squatting catcher some time this month. ... I'll also plan on pitching in December.  And I'd like to get my [new] year started before anyone else."

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As of yesterday, Minoru Iwata was scheduled to pitch in a simulated game today (with a pitch count of about 100 pitches).  Iwata spent his day playing catch and running during practice on Saturday (he didn't pitch in the bullpen).

UPDATE: Iwata tossed 5 shutout innings while giving up 4 hits and striking out 2 on 59 pitches.  He also mixed in his off-speed pitches, like his slider and curve, and topped out at 141km/h.

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Robert Zarate got his eyes checked out on Saturday in order to get a prescription for a new pair of glasses.  Upon returning from his examination, he spent some time flagging down flyballs in the outfield during BP without any glasses on.

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Tomoaki Kanemoto spent about 3 hours at the player dorms (like getting treatment on his right shoulder and working with weights) in Naruohama on Saturday.

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The Tigers worked on stealing second (with leads) during practice on Saturday.  Seems the fastest was Hiroki Uemoto at 3.29 seconds.  And according to training coach Atsunori Ito, that's not too far off from Norihiro Akahoshi's mark of 3.26 seconds (an average).

For runs between first and third, Yamato came out on top with a 6.99 second mark.

The Tigers were in the middle of the pack in stolen bases this past season (71) and are looking towards Uemoto, Yamato, Shunsuke Fujikawa, Kenichi Tagami, and Kohei Shibata to step up with their speed.

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Akinobu Mayumi told reporters on Saturday that thing he's looking for in a catcher right now (to step in for Kenji Jojima) is one that has strong defensive skills.

Incidentally, it seems Jojima placed a call to Takumi Akiyama (he's apparently keeping tabs on the youngster) and also asked chief trainer Tatsuzo Tsunekawa not to give the media too much information about his surgery.  The club may also give Jojima the green light to do whatever he feels is necessary in order to get back to the playing field as soon as possible, including heading overseas (like Los Angeles, Arizona, and Hawaii) for his rehab and training.  They may even excuse him from upcoming events like Fan Appreciation Day and the end of the year team gathering.  It's all about providing Jojima with whatever he needs.

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As part of his tryout, Yokhama Bay Stars' senryokugai Kosuke Kato tossed 53 pitches (including his curve, slider, and shuto) to a squatting catcher, with Mayumi watching, earlier today.  Kato is scheduled to stay with the team until the last day of fall camp (17th).

Hanshin Tigers News and Notes: November 2, 2010

by on Nov.02, 2010 @ 1:53 pm, under NPB
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Akinobu Mayumi is planning on working the young outfielders hard during fall camp in order to improve the team's outfield defense.  And it seems Mayumi is also thinking about making Matt Murton the everyday right fielder next season and having some of the younger, faster players compete for the center field job.  Looks like there are a total 9 candidates for the position: Kohei Shibata, Kenichi Tagami, Yuhei Kai, Shunsuke Fujikawa, Ryo Asai, Keisuke Kanno, Katsuhiko Saka, Yamato, and recently drafted Fumiya Araki.  (Saka and Yamato have been selected to spend some time working out in the outfield during fall camp.)

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Seems the Tigers are using rakes (トンボ) to help strengthen the lower body by throwing them (sort of like a spear).  It's apparently an old training exercise.

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Kazuhito Futagami plans on spending the off-season working on strengthening exercises to make sure he's fully ready for the 2011 season.  Futagami also struggled with right elbow problems this season and is still in the middle of rehab.

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Robert Zarate threw a total 82 baseballs at Naruohama yesterday.  Seems he also had to stop and take two breathers during running exercises in the outfield.

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Takumi Akiyama will apparently try to improve his time to the plate by 0.1 seconds during the off-season.

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The Tigers held their first round of negotiations with Shinobu Fukuhara (international FA option) and Yuya Ando (domestic FA option) on Monday.  The Tigers apparently asked both players to stay with the team next season.  The Tigers will probably meet Tomoaki Kanemoto and Kentaro Sekimoto for the second time sometime early next week.

Hanshin Tigers News and Notes: November 1, 2010 Evening Update

by on Nov.01, 2010 @ 10:33 pm, under NPB
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The Hanshin Tigers re-signed Kazuhito Futagami for 14M yen (down 1M yen from last year).

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The first day of Tigers fall camp lasted about 7 hours.  The Tigers also held an evening practice session for a number of players after dinner.

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Takumi Akiyama tossed about 60 pitches in the bullpen on the first day of fall camp.  He also worked on his quick delivery to the plate (with runners on base).

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Tomoaki Kanemoto showed up at Naruohama on Sunday and apparently spent time getting treatment on his right shoulder and working on various strengthening exercises.

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Seems Shunsuke Fujikawa's right elbow is apparently feeling better now.

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Minoru Iwata held a bullpen session on Sunday and threw about 60 pitches.  Seems he didn't have a very good session.

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Ikketsu Sho will be joining the Chinese Taipei national baseball team for practice (he's on the roster for the Asian Games) beginning on the 7th.  Until then, he'll be at fall camp.

Some more Yusei Kikuchi News and Notes from September 29th, 2009

by on Sep.29, 2009 @ 2:23 pm, under High School
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Some Yusei Kikuchi coverage.

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From Sanspo:

Kikuchi on his appearance yesterday, "It was great to be able to really air out the arm.  I even let out a shout when I faced Dobayashi-kun."

Kikuchi on when he started throwing again, "I really started throwing at 100% about 2-3 days ago."

There were scouts from MLB teams like the Dodgers, Mets and Cubs (8 in all).

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From Sponichi:

...Kikuchi did not make a pitching appearance on the 29th but did appear in the game as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 9th and lined out to the short stop.  Hanamaki Higashi fell to Miyakonojo, 3-2.

...If Kikuchi ends up deciding he wants to go to the Majors, it could create some problems for teams during this year's amateur draft.

"This will have an effect not only on teams that are targeting Kikuchi, but also teams that are targeting other players," said Fighters Director of Scouting Ohbuchi.

In a draft year where some consider Kikuchi as the top prospect, many teams other than the Giants have considered going with Kikuchi as their number 1 pick.  Still, there will likely be other teams that will use this situation to go after other "forgotten gems" like Kazuhito Futagami and Takeru Imamura.  If Kikuchi really decides he wants to go the Majors, that may scare off a bunch of team and causing a number of them to redirect their focus on players like Futagami and Imamura.

...The MLB scouts are apparently in "本気モード" (honki-mode, or serious mode) because they all sat separate from each other when they usually tend to sit in groups so that they can share notes while they watch.

"We can't comment on special players we're targeting," said Steve Wilson, Pacific Rim scout for the Chicago Cubs.

...Shota Dobayashi hopes Kikuchi stays in the Japan so that they'll have a chance to face each other again.

"I want to look forward to the day that we face each other again in the pros."