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Uchikawa set to leave Hawks
Seiichi Uchikawa, a former Japan international, one of two players to win a batting title in both the Central and Pacific leagues and the player, more than any other, who signaled the start of the SoftBank Hawks’ current dynasty, will look for another team next season after being told he is no longer in the PL champs’ plans.
He joins a growing number of veterans on the winter job market including Tigers’ outfielder Kosuke Fukudome and former Hanshin ace Atsushi Nomi.
In 2011, the 38-year-old Uchikawa became the first CL star in his prime to move directly to the PL as a free agent. The Nippon Ham Fighters’ biggest hitter of their strong teams from 2006 to 2012, Atsunori Inaba, left the Yakult Swallows after 2004, but signed with the Fighters only after he failed to get a guaranteed offer in the majors.
Uchikawa’s arrival, a year after SoftBank won its first pennant but lost in the playoffs, was followed by the team winning six Japan Series championships in nine seasons.
The native of Oita Prefecture, Uchikawa was the BayStars’ No. 1 pick out of high school in the 2000 draft, and had his breakout season in 2004. He is one of those players who works hard to make himself understood and expends more energy than most in thinking of better ways to express himself. So while some players seem to have a recorded answer for common questions they face and give identical answers every time they are asked, I doubt Uchikawa ever answers any question the same way.
He speaks with a lisp, and while some players with a speech impediment seem reluctant to speak, Uchikawa has always appeared to relish it and seems to enjoy delivering unique perspectives on the most mundane topics.
Enokida pitches Lions past Fighters
The Nippon Ham Fighters gave lefty Daiki Enokida a bunch of mulligans by laying off fat pitches early on, and before they knew it, the game was up in a 4-0 two-hit loss to the Seibu Lions on Monday at MetLife Dome.
The Lions win moved them to within one-game of the second-place Lotte Marines in the fight for the Pacific League’s second and final playoff spot.
Enokida (1-1) began with inconsistent location, but the Fighters hitters went to the plate almost as if they’d been told Enokida would throw NOTHING in the zone. So when he missed, they watched or were surprised, and the 34-year-old began pin-pointing the edges of the zone and really spinning his 86-mph fastball that the Fighters hitters rarely got good swings on.
Fighters rookie Tsubasa Nabatame (0-1) allowed two runs in the first. An error, an infield single and a sacrifice put two men in scoring position. With the infield in against left-handed-hitting Takumi Kuriyama, the rookie left a pitch up, and Kuriyama put a textbook flat slap-hitter swing on it smacking it between third and short for a two-run single.
Fumikazu Kimura homered in the fifth to make it 3-0 and Ryosuke Moriwake got the Lions out of a seventh-inning jam after Enokida allowed a one-out double and a walk.
Kaima Taira worked a 1-2-3 eighth and after an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, closer Tatsushi Masuda sat down so Reed Garrett could finish the shutout.
Active roster moves 11/2/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/12
Starting pitchers for Nov. 3, 2020
Lions vs Fighters: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Lions vs Fighters: MetLife Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Marines vs Hawks: Zozo Marine Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Buffaloes vs Eagles: Kyocera Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Dragons vs BayStars: Nagoya Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Tigers vs Swallows: Koshien Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Carp vs Giants: Mazda Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT