NPB news: May 2, 2022

There was no pro baseball on Monday in Japan, although this is pretty much the norm, it’s not the norm for Japan’s long extended spring “Golden Week” holiday.

The string of national holidays usually means day baseball on Monday for one of the two leagues, but this year’s Monday falls on one of the non holidays, so it’s pretty much like normal except, all 18 games played between May 3 and 5 will start at 1 or 2 pm, so there’s that.

On Tuesday, Masahiro Tanaka will go against one of Japan’s better lefties, Nippon Ham’s Takayuki Kato. The other big PL duel will be a rematch between Yoshinobu Yamamoto and SoftBank’s Shuta Ishikawa, who outpitched the Orix ace on April 19.

On Monday, Ishikawa would have none of the hype, Nikkan Sports reported, while I take another look at the great Junya Nishi what if the Hanshin Tigers have done well to prevent. We also saw the Hawks make a decision on Freddy Galvis.

Shall we get started?

I want to be like Yamamoto

“He’s not the one I’ll actually be facing, so I’m not thinking about that (matchup),” said Ishikawa, who shut out Orix over x innings last time while striking out 10.

“My thinking is that I want to be a pitcher like him. He is a stimulus to my ambition.”

Hawks move Galvis to minors

The SoftBank Hawks meanwhile moved Freddy Galvis to the minors, which is probably the smart thing to do. He’s not going to learn to time Japanese pitching by sitting on the bench.

Several players, including Wladimir Balentien, have credited their time on the farm to finding their rhythm because they can go down and get a zillion swings, not against the best pitchers in Japan, but against Japanese pitchers with typical Japanese leg-pumping deliveries. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

Balentien got a late start to the 2013 season after he came back hurt from the WBC and I’m guessing he used his time in Toda, Saitama Prefecture, productively, since in his 130 remaining games he bashed 60 home runs — a huge improvement over what Sadaharu Oh, Tuffy Rhodes and Alex Cabrera did by hitting 55 when each had 140 games to play with.

Let’s call Yuki Nishi “Senior”

Now that we got a good look at Junya Nishi on Sunday, who brought some electric stuff to the mound against the Giants, while projecting a goofy Shohei Ohtani-like joy, I’ve got to start calling Yuki Nishi, “Senior.”

Senior will take the mound Tuesday against the Swallows at Koshien as the Tigers look to extend their win streak to seven. So that should be fun.

Speaking of “Junior”

Junya, as I ceaselessly remind people, was Japan’s designated hitter at the 2019 Under-18 World Cup and led the tourney in home runs. He swings the bat well, and isn’t a two-way player because the Hanshin Tigers didn’t want him to try to be a two-way player.

The team ostensibly made the decision because there is no DH in the Central League, but a more likely reason is the team’s fear of breaking taboos. The Tigers have rejected pushing weight-training knowledge on players, something that would earn the ire of Isao Harimoto and other old farts, and they are simply too scared to do something baseball’s old guys will publicly disapprove of.

Shohei Ohtani was given a chance to do it ONLY because the Fighters needed something to keep him from turning pro in the States, and not because they believed it was possible. Despite the fact that the fans loved it and Ohtani was really good at it, the Fighters got a ton of shit for allowing it.

Before Ohtani, Japanese baseball assumed it knew with 100 percent certainty that no one could do it. Now, the baseball establishment guys know with 100 percent certainty that no one but Ohtani can do it.

Of course, when they say only Ohtani can do it, that “wisdom” is coming straight out of their asses.

When I wrote that the Tigers were missing the boat by not letting Junya try, the guy who runs the Hanshin Tigers English News blog ripped me, saying essentially “How dare you think you know more than our coaches.”

Of course, I don’t know more than their coaches. I was saying a player who might be really good at doing both and wants to do both, should be given a chance to do both, and it sounded awfully like it was a decision not based on science or knowledge but on fear of being criticized for being different.

If they didn’t even try, then I might not know more than them, but I do know that no one knows it’s impossible.

Tuesday’s starting pitchers

Fighters vs Eagles: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Takayuki Kato (2-1, 2.19) vs Masahiro Tanaka (2-1, 1.86)

Lions vs Marines: Seibu Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Shunsuke Sato (1-3, 3.79) vs Kazuya Ojima (0-2, 2.77)

Hawks vs Buffaloes: Fukuoka Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Shuta Ishikawa (2-0, 0.87) vs Yoshinobu Yamamoto (3-1, 1.22)

BayStars vs Dragons: Yokohama Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Fernando Romero (2-2, 6.35) vs Shinnosuke Ogasawara (0-1, 3.86)

Tigers vs Swallows: Koshien Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Yuki Nishi (2-1, 1.91) vs Yasuhiro Ogawa (0-2, 5.68)

Carp vs Giants: Hiroshima Citizen’s Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Hiroki Tokoda (2-1, 2.67) vs Yuji Akahoshi (2-1, 3.41)

Active roster moves 5/2/2022

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/12

Central League


SwallowsC32Naoki Matsumoto
CarpP65Shogo Tamamura
BayStarsIF66Koki Yamashita

Pacific League


HawksIF3Freddy Galvis
FightersP35Takahiro Nishimura
FightersP45Cody Ponce
LionsC78Masato Saito
LionsOF46Shohei Suzuki

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