Camp fires March 3, 2021

There were four preseason exhibition games, known in Japan as “open games,” on Thursday. This told us precious little about what to expect when Nippon Professional Baseball’s major leagues open their season on March 25, except that there will be a season, which given the bullshit being spread around by MLB owners, is encouraging.

A day after looking as over-matched at the plate as they did much of the 2021 season, the Chunichi Dragons bounced back to beat the SoftBank Hawks 5-3. The Dragons’ second-round pick, outfielder Kosuke Wakai, bounced back from a two-strikeout game on Wednesday with a double, a homer two runs and two RBIs.

At Tokyo Dome, 25-year-old Giant Kazuma Okamoto, who has led Japan’s Central League in home runs and RBIs for the past two seasons, hit a pair of homers after hitting one the day before, also against the Seibu Lions, while C.C. Mercedes struck out three in three perfect innings. Zelous Wheeler also homered for Yomiuri.

At Sapporo Dome, a new manager means new opportunities, and Nippon Ham’s Chusei Mannami put one foot forward in that respect on Thursday with a home run in a 1-1 tie against the Swallows.

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