Practice games ahead of the June 19 Opening Day got underway on Tuesday in Japan, with each team scheduled for 12 games before things get underway. On Tuesday, the clubs announced teams will have expanded rosters, and on Monday, NPB announced official schedules for the first time since it abandoned opening the season on March 20. The Central League mapped out its plan until July 23 and the Pacific League until July 19.
Austin blasts off
Journeyman first baseman / corner outfielder Tyler Austin picked up where he left off in the spring. The new DeNA BayStar homered and went 3-for-3 in the BayStars June practice game opener against the Rakuten Eagles on Tuesday.
“He’s been swinging the bat pretty good in batting practice and today he had the opportunity to show that in the game. And he swung pretty good today,” BayStars manager Alex Ramirez said of his new import who went 12-for-35 with six doubles, for home runs and six walks in the preseason.
Bour hits 1st home run in Japan
New Hanshin Tiger Justin Bour, who had four singles and a walk in his 20 official preseason plate appearances (not counting practice games) homered on Tuesday as the Tigers and Hiroshima Carp ramped up their preparations with a practice game at Koshien Stadium.
Ynoa goes 5 for Swallows
Gabriel Ynoa, who came to Japan this year to play his 11th pro season, started at Jingu Stadium for the Yakult Swallows and allowed one run over five innings in their 15-3 practice game win over the Chunichi Dragons.
Rosters, import limits increased
NPB announced changes to its roster limits due to the additional stress that comes with starting a season in the midst of a pandemic, Sports Nippon reported Tuesday.
The number of players eligible to suit up for a game will be increased from 25 to 26, while the active roster will be increased from 29 to 31. The limit on active import players will be increased from four to five, although the game roster limit will continue to be four, with no more than three pitchers or three position players.
“There is no downside to increasing the number of active players or the number on the bench, so increasing those is no problem,” said Tadahito Mori, the executive director of NPB’s player union.
Because of the delayed start to the season, some consideration is being given to push the deadline for non-waiver roster additions to Sept. 20 from July 31, an ideal the players association is also in favor of