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[8/17/2015] Rakuten Eagles: Takashi Saito to retire after the season

by on Aug.17, 2015 @ 9:48 pm, under NPB
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Takashi Saito held a press conference on August 17 to announce that he was going to retire after the season.

Source: official announcement

[UPDATE 10/5 @ 10:01am]

Saito was added to the active roster on October 4 and pitched in the last game of his career. He entered the game against Softbank in the 9th and held back tears as he struck out Toru Hosokawa swinging on three fastballs (third pitch was way out of the zone). Takahiro Norimoto, Kazuo Matsui, and Senichi Hoshino presented him with flowers. Teammates tossed him into the air five times.

Source: official announcement, Daily Sports 10/4/2015, Sponichi 10/4/2015, Nikkan Sports 10/4/2015

[UPDATE 10/5 @ 5:40pm]

Takashi was taken off the active roster on October 5.

(continue reading...)

[8/17/2015] Rakuten Eagles: Takashi Saito to retire, press conference on August 17

by on Aug.17, 2015 @ 3:16 pm, under NPB
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Takashi Saito (45) has decided that this will be his last season. He is scheduled to hold a press conference in Sendai to formally announce his decision on August 17.

Saito turned forty-five earlier this year in February. He has struggled with his conditioning and has only managed to pitch in two Ichi-gun games this season. His last game came against Ni-gu Yakult on August 6: he entered the game in the 9th, gave up two runs on three hits and two walks, and topped out at 144km/h.

Source: Sports Hochi 8/17/2015, Nikkan Sports 8/17/2015, Sponichi 8/17/2015

[UPDATE 8/18 @ 12:29am]

The Eagles held a press conference for Saito on August 17.

On why he decided to retire:

There wasn't just one reason. There were a number of reasons. The reality of not being able to help the team at a time like this, my performance that hasn't been good enough. For a lot of reasons, I felt like this was the time for me to step away. I can't recalled a specific at bat, moment on the mound, or hitter I was facing. I think there's no doubt that the decision slowly came to me.

On when he decided:

Just two weeks. When I thought about where the team was and where I was, I found the reason to quit. I feel the answer came to me quite simply.

On what he has planned:

I want a little time to relax. Then may be around September, help out with practices and do a little training myself.

On the possibility of a retirement ceremony:

The organization told me they want to hold one. It's something we have to talk about and then I'll let them handle it.

Source: official announcement, Nikkan Sports 8/17/2015

Rakuten Eagles News and Notes: February 15, 2013

by on Feb.15, 2013 @ 11:50 pm, under NPB
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Ichi-gun team traveled to Nago, Okinawa.


The Eagles have seventeen pitchers and nineteen position players at Ichi-gun camp right now.  More than ten of these players will have to be cut before the start of the regular season.

Source: Daily Sports 2/15/2013


Takashi Saito is scheduled to toss about forty pitches during batting practice on Sunday.

Source: Sanspo 2/15/2013


Wataru Karashima and Yoshinao Kamata were late to the Kumejima camp closing statements ceremony by more than five minutes on Thursday.  Senichi Hoshino was not happy and rounded up the pitching staff for a last minute meeting.  He fined Shinichiro Koyama 100,000 yen for failing to keep everyone together.

Source: Sponichi 2/15/2013


6th round draft pick Hirohito Shimai was called up to Ichi-gun camp today and traveled with the team to Nago, Okinawa.

Source: Sponichi 2/15/2013


The Eagles announced that they hired Mika Someya to be a full-time coach at their softball school.

Source: official announcement

Rakuten Eagles News and Notes: February 14, 2013

by on Feb.14, 2013 @ 11:31 pm, under NPB
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Bullpen Sessions / Batting Practice


  • Takashi Saito: bullpen, forty-five pitches
  • 1st round draft pick Yudai Mori: bullpen, twenty-six pitches to a standing catcher and thirty-four pitches to a half-bent catcher, third session since the start of camp

Source: Sanspo 2/14/2013, Sanspo 2/14/2013


  • Masahiro Tanaka: bullpen, forty pitches

Source: Sports Hochi 2/14/2013


The Ichi-gun group closed out their camp in Kumejima, Okinawa today.  They will now head to Kin, Okinawa.

Source: Nikkan Sports 2/14/2013


Valentine's Day: Takahiro Shiomi led all players with seventy-two chocolates.  Motohiro Shima was in second with seventy and Teppei in third with sixty-five.

Source: Sanspo 2/14/2013


Takashi Saito is scheduled to throw around forty pitches during batting practice on the 17th.

Saito celebrated his forty-third birthday today.

Source: Sanspo 12/14/2013


Takumi Miyoshi was called up to Ichi-gun camp on the 11th.  He will continue to remain with the Ichi-gun group as camp moves to Kin, Okinawa on Friday.

Source: Nikkan Sports 2/14/2013


Masahiro Tanaka made an adjustment to his splitter (how he grips the ball) during his bullpen on Wednesday.  Tadashi Ishimine caught the session and later said to reporters, "I have never seen movement like that [from Tanaka].  It looked like the pitch would diving in toward right-handed hitters."

Source: Sports Hochi 2/14/2013, Sponichi 2/14/2013, Nikkan Sports 2/14/2013, Sanspo 2/14/2013


2nd round draft pick Takahiro Norimoto has not allowed a run in two intra-squad games (four innings, three hits).

Source: Sports Hochi 2/14/2013


Former Rakuten Eagle Masato Nakamura wanted to continue playing and was also looking into the KBO, but did not receive any offers.  He has decided to retire and plans to open a restaurant/bar.

Source: Daily Sports 2/14/2013

Rakuten Eagles hold press conference for Takashi Saito

by on Jan.08, 2013 @ 9:14 pm, under NPB
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The Rakuten Eagles held a press conference for Takashi Saito at Kleenex Stadium today.  Source: official announcementSanspo 1/8/2013

Home and road replica uniforms and a t-shirt are now available for pre-order from the official team store.

The Eagles are also thinking about creating a special corner at Kleenex Stadium that contains Saito memorabilia (like photos) going back to his high school (Tohoku) and university (Tohoku Fukushi) years.  Source: Sponichi 1/8/2013

Sanspo has posted portions of his press conference:

What made you pick the Eagles?

I got excited when the president of the team said things like, "Let us change baseball, the baseball world, from Tohoku."

You are returning to your roots.

There are some things that make this emotional.  In following the career path I have gone done, I never would have thought it would lead me here.

Japanese baseball changed while you were in the US.

The rules, the baseballs, Inter-league play.  There have been big changes.  It feels like Urashima Taro (similar to a Rip Van Winkle character).  It may be necessary for me to make even more adjustments than when I was in the US.

What are you goals for this season?

I would like to help the team win.  I want to take things day by day.

What are your thoughts about being a member of a team that plays in an area that was hit by a natural disaster?

People want to see us win.  If winning can help excite the Tohoku Region...  I also want to do what I can off the field.

Source: Sanspo 1/8/2013

A more complete version (in Japanese) of what was said during the press conference can be found by following the "official announcement" link above.

Rakuten Eagles announce Takashi Saito signing

by on Dec.29, 2012 @ 2:40 pm, under NPB
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The Rakuten Eagles officially announced that they signed Takashi Saito to a contract for the 2013 season and assigned him the number forty-four.  According to a number of reports, the two sides agreed to a one-year deal worth thirty million yen plus incentives.

Source: official announcement, Nikkan Sports 12/29/2012, Daily Sports 12/29/2012, Sponichi 12/29/2012

Rakuten Eagles are finalizing a deal with Takashi Saito

by on Dec.28, 2012 @ 4:00 pm, under NPB
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According to Sponichi, the Rakuten Eagles in the middle of finalizing a deal with forty-year-old Takashi Saito.  An announcement could be made as early Saturday.  The two sides are said to be working on a one-year deal worth about thirty million yen.  Incentives could push the total value of the contract to 100 million yen.  He could also be assigned the number forty-four.

Source: Sponichi 12/28/2012

"It is not official yet, so I cannot really say much," said team president Yozo Tachibana.  "The truth is that we received many requests from fans to sign [Saito].  We respect him for everything he did for people [after the Tohoku earthquake].  It would be great if he can pitch well and become a symbol of recovery for Tohoku and Sendai."

Souce: Nikkan Sports 12/28/2012

12/5/2012: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Hideki Matsui, Hiroyuki Nakajima

by on Dec.05, 2012 @ 4:56 pm, under MLB
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Hyun-Jin Ryu could end up pitching in Japan, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez.  A snip:

"Japan is a very viable option for him," said Scott Boras, who disputed the notion that his client doesn't have any leverage in his negotiations with the Dodgers.

... Boras and the Dodgers appear to be far apart in how they think Ryu should be compensated.

... Boras wants Ryu to be paid comparably to a No. 3 major league starter, similar to how Daisuke Matsuzaka was when he signed with the Boston Red Sox before the 2007 season.

And from a separate Los Angeles Times' article by Hernandez:

The Dodgers offered a long-term contract to South Korean left-hander Ryu Hyun-jin on Tuesday that was promptly rejected, General Manager Ned Colletti said.

... Boras, said his client should be compensated like a major league No. 3 starter. So, presumably, he’s looking for something in the $50-million range.

... But the idea of Ryu moving to Japan appears far fetched.

It's uncertain exactly how such a move would be made. A South Korean player has never moved to Japan before becoming a free agent. Ryu is under the Eagles' control for two more seasons.

... There is no posting system between the Japanese and South Korean leagues.  Theoretically, a Japanese team interested in Ryu could pay the Eagles for his rights. But it's doubtful a Japanese club would pay anything close to $25.7 million if Ryu only wants a one-year contract. In that case, the Eagles would probably hold on to Ryu for another season and post him again next year.


The San Francisco Giants still have interested in Ichiro Suzuki.  From SFGate.com:

Bochy on Ichiro Suzuki: "He is a guy that we discussed last season, and of course he's been in our discussions at times this" offseason.


The Houston Astros' interest in Hideki Matsui, from the Houston Chronicle's Brian T. Smith:

Porter and Luhnow are equally aware Houston needs a reliable bat. But the Astros' GM appeared to shoot down any real interest in Matsui after Porter brought Godzilla to the surface.

"It's one of many names," Luhnow said. "There's nothing specific that's been done on that."


The latest on Kyuji Fujikawa, from MLB.com's Carrie Muskat:

The Cubs are expected to complete the agreement with Japanese pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa on Friday. The right-hander has reportedly agreed to a two-year, $9.5 million contract, which includes vesting options valued at $5.5 million or $6 million, to be determined by games finished.

The deal has not been finalized, but Cubs manager Dale Sveum has watched video of Fujikawa and likes what he's seen.

"He can fill any kind of role, he has that kind of stuff," Sveum said. "Those numbers and that ability to do things with three, four different pitches just doesn't come around very often. He can set up, he can close. He can do anything he wants with a baseball. He has four quality pitches and can add and subtract with his fastball. He can pitch in the seventh, pitch in the eighth, pitch in the ninth. He can get left-handers out and pitch in any type of situation." 


The Oakland A's met with Hiroyuki Nakajima on Tuesday, according to Ken Rosenthal.


Takashi Saito would like to play in the Majors next season.  Japan has not been ruled out.  Source: Nikkan Sports 12/5/2012


The latest on Tsuyoshi Wada, from the Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly:

On the health front, Showalter said he believes outfielder Nolan Reimold (neck surgery), Brian Matusz (hernia surgery) and Tsuyoshi Wada (Tommy John surgery) are all recuperating well. Showalter said he believes Wada, who had surgery May 11, could be available before most originally expected, though he wouldn't predict a date. It usually takes a year or more to recover from the surgery.


The Dodgers will hand out Hideo Nomo bobbleheads will be handed out to the first 50,000 fans on August 10.  Source: MLB.com 12/4/2012


UPDATE 12/6 @ 12:18am -

The Milwaukee Brewers may be interested in Hideki Okajima.  Source: Sponichi 12/5/2012


Japan is not an option for Hisanori Takahashi in 2013.  Source: Sponichi 12/5/2012


The Baltimore Orioles could be interested in Kensuke Tanaka (as a utility infielder).  Source: Sponichi 12/5/2012

10/30/2012: Hiroki Kuroda, Hisashi Iwakuma

by on Oct.30, 2012 @ 11:45 pm, under MLB
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Ichiro Suzuki, Hiroki Kuroda, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Koji Uehara, and Takashi Saito became free agents on Monday.  They will be allowed to negotiate with other teams beginning on Saturday.  Source: MLB.com FA List


Sanspo notes that Boston Globe thinks there is a chance the Yankees will sign Kuroda to a one-year deal with some interest from the Dodgers as well.  Sanspo also notes that CBS is reporting Kuroda does not want a multi-year deal because he wants to keep his options open; the Red Sox are a possibility.  Source: Sanspo 10/30/2012


Hisashi Iwakuma is not yet a free agent because there is a clause in his contract that gives the Seattle Mariners until Saturday to sign him.

From the Seattle Times' Larry Stone:

Some of you may wonder why pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma isn't on this list. Very good question. When he signed a one-year deal as a free agent from Japan in January, Iwakuma's contract called for him to be granted his release if he can't reach agreement with the Mariners by Saturday (the same day that free agents can sign with other teams). If Iwakuma doesn't sign by Saturday, he thus would become a free agent, but technically he is not one right now. Apparently, Iwakuma could actually delay his request for release beyond Saturday, but that's considered unlikley. In essense, the stipulation makes Iwakuma no different than any other free agent: His team has a six-day exclusive window to re-sign him, then he becomes free to negotiate with other teams.