How does one count where baseball activities sit in relation to the regular season when Opening Day is a moving target? Are we at projected OD1 (March 20) + 7 days or OD3 (April 24) minus 28 days?
Between the coronavirus pandemic AND the sudden postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, the national government’s finger on the trigger of a national emergency, a three-week lock-down. Into that mix, NPB had its first positive tests for coronavirus, three players from the Hanshin Tigers, forcing that entire team to go into self-quarantine.
When the April 24 Opening Day was announced, both the Central and Pacific leagues announced they would suspend their practice games until the middle of April. That may be so, but their minor league clubs are still playing practice games, and many of the CL and PL regulars are taking part.
On Friday, Zach Neal pitched for the Seibu Lions at Seibu’s minor league facility, essentially a back field behind MetLife Dome, in a game against the Lotte Marines, who also threw one of their first-line starters, Ayumu Ishikawa.
But with the news of the Tigers infections, many teams are even suspending their farm team games for the time being.
Sasaki throws 2nd BP
18-year-old flame-thrower Roki Sasaki threw his second live BP of the spring at the Marines’ home park, QVC Marine Stadium in Chiba on Friday and touched 156 kph (96.9 mph) on the radar gun.
“I wasn’t able to command some balls, and I want to increase the number of quality pitches,” he told reporters.
Here’s a video of Sasaki’s effort on Friday.
He was unable to locate his fork ball early on, but in the later stages of the session, he was able to pepper the bottom of the zone with his pitches, including his slider.
“This is a world that doesn’t tolerate poorly executed pitches, so I want to be able to execute as close as I can to 100 percent,” he said.
Matsui gets lit up
Rakuten Eagles lefty Yuki Matsui, who failed to make it as a starter straight out of high school but became a hit as their closer, has been working all spring toward a return to the starting rotation.
It’s been a rocky road so far, and on Friday his warm-up outing he allowed six runs in one inning.
“I had mediocre stuff,” he said. “Being a starter is tough.”