NPB news: March 28, 2022

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It’s Monday, so there were no games today in Japan’s major leagues, but there are announced starting pitchers, some player news, and a stupid comment based on the results of one team’s first three games, so let’s get started.

A small sample of stupidity

Former Nippon Ham Fighters ace Tsutomu Iwamoto issued a warning for his old club on Sunday after they were swept in three games by the SoftBank Hawks to open the season. Iwamoto, who is a regular on Fuji TV’s Pro Yakyu News and a regular TV analyst for Fighters’ home broadcasts, was disappointed by the team’s lack of offense, although the team was close to winning all three games.

In an article posted by JCastNews, Iwamoto bemoaned the team’s inability to jump on a shaky start by Hawks ace Kodai Senga in the opener and cited the team’s inability to get “timely” hits.

The Fighters hit five home runs in three games after hitting a PL-worst 78 in 143 games last season. Against the Hawks, they were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, the one hit a Game 2-tying home run by Chusei Mannami. Without runners in scoring position, they batted .157.

Iwamoto, who makes me cringe every time he squeals “Big Boss!” paraphrased a line from Shinjo’s introductory presser. Then, Shinjo said he wouldn’t aim for the championship, not until it was late in the season and within reach, because the skipper wants to focus on each game as it comes.

“If things keep going the way they are,” Iwamoto said, “the team will go from not aiming for a championship to not being able to aim for a championship.”

The operative words there are, “if things keep going the way they are.” My God, dude. It’s three games!

If things keep going the way they are, the Fighters would be the third-best home run hitting team in NPB history with the worst batting average in history and the biggest gap between their average without runners in scoring position and with men on second or third from the 876 team seasons I have situational hitting records for.

Tatsunami goes back to drawing board

New Chunichi Dragons manager Kazuyoshi Tatsunami revealed that his new acquisition, former SoftBank middle reliever Sho Iwasaki, has not suffered muscle damage or a broken bone, NIkkan Sports reported. The right-hander came out of Friday’s game hurt.

Tatsunami indicated that reliever Daisuke Sobue, who was nursing a right shoulder injury in camp, is expected to join the team soon, and that in the meantime, former starter Yariel Rodriguez will take over the setup role.

The skipper indicated the trio of right-handers Shinji Tajima and Tatsuya Shimizu and lefty Hiroto Fuku would handle the seventh-inning middle-relief burden, although he suggested that was just a backup plan.

“The starting pitchers are responsible for seven innings for the whole year,” Tatsunami said, although we know and he knows that’s just talk.

Tuesday’s starting pitchers

Masahiro Tanaka gets his first start of the season on Tuesday against the Buffaloes, while the Fighters will send their best starter, Naoyuki Uwasawa to the mound for their home opener, and the Swallows do the same at Jingu with last year’s rookie sensation Yasuobu Okugawa opening their series against the Giants.

In Hiroshima, the Hanshin Tigers will send the first pitcher we expected to be in the rotation, Yuki Nishi, who will see if he bounces back from poor years the way he has in the past.

So it looks like we’ve got some fun on tap.

Fighters vs Lions: Sapporo Dome 6:30 pm, 5:30 am EDT

Naoyuki Uwasawa (12-6, 2.81) vs Shunsuke Sato (-)

Marines vs Hawks: Zozo Marine Stadium 6:30 pm, 5:30 am EDT

Enny Romero (1-0, 1.54) vs Shuta Ishikawa (6-9, 3.40)

Buffaloes vs Eagles: Osaka Dome) 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Daiki Tajima (8-8, 3.58) vs Masahiro Tanaka (4-9, 3.01)

Swallows vs Giants: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yasunobu Okugawa (9-4, 3.26) vs Shosei Togo (9-8, 4.27)

Dragons vs BayStars: Nagoya Dome 6:15 pm, 5:15 am EDT

Shinnosuke Ogasawara (8-10, 3.64) vs Fernando Romero (5-3, 3.01)

Carp vs Tigers: Hiroshima Citizen’s Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Allen Kuri (13-9, 3.81) vs Yuki Nishi (6-9, 3.76)

Active roster moves 3/28/2022

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 4/7

Central League


GiantsP12Rubby De La Rosa
CarpC22Shosei Nakamura

Pacific League


BuffaloesIF3Ryoichi Adachi
EaglesIF66Itsuki Murabayashi
EaglesOF51Yuya Ogo
HawksIF52Richard Sunagawa
FightersP53Takehiro Hasegawa
LionsOF73Wataru Takagi

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