Tag Archives: Hiroyuki Nakajima

NPB Wrap 4-4-21

Miyagi wins rookie showdown

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, 19-year-old Hiroya Miyagi (2-0) won a rookie southpaw showdown with Takahisa Hayakawa (1-1) Sunday in the Orix Buffaloes’ 4-0 Pacific League win over the Rakuten Eagles.

Miyagi struck out five over eight innings. He pinpointed his pitches when he needed to as in his masterful three-pitch strikeout of right-handed slugger Hideto Asamura in the fourth with a runner on.

Leadoff man Ryo Ota, Masataka Yoshida and Steven Moya each had three hits for the Buffaloes. Yoshida’s second homer, with Ota aboard, opened the scoring in the third.

Yoshida set the table with one of two singles in the sixth before Moya singled both home.

Unlike Hayakawa, whom four teams named as their first choice in last year’s draft, Miyagi was the Buffaloes’ second alternate pick after they lost a lottery pick for slugging infielder Shoya Ishikawa (Chunichi) and left-handed pitcher (Ryusei Kawano) Nippon Ham.

Miyagi struck out 16 batters in 16 innings last season, as he retained his rookie status for 2021.

At Sapporo Dome, lefty Takayuki Kato allowed a run on one hit and two walks over eight innings, and Toshihiro Sugiura completed the one-hitter for the Nippon Ham Fighters, who came from behind to tie the Lotte Marines 1-1 on Haruki Nishikawa’s eighth-inning RBI single.

Marines starter, rookie lefty Shota Suzuki allowed two hits and two walks and struck out 11 over seven scoreless innings.

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Wu Nien-ting and top draft pick Kento Watanabe each homered for the Seibu Lions in their 4-2 win over the SoftBank Hawks, who lost their fifth straight.

Katsunori Hirai (2-0) allowed two runs over 5-2/3 innings in which he struck out eight, while the bullpen allowed three runners the rest of the way. Reed Garrett retired the heart of the Hawks’ order 1-2-3 in the ninth for his first save. Tsuyoshi Wada (0-1) gave up four runs on four walks and six hits over six innings.

BayStars win a game

At Yokohama Stadium, Kazuki Kamizato and Toshiro Miyazaki homered in support of rookie Kosuke Sakaguchi (1-0) who won his season debut and the DeNA BayStars’ first victory under new manager Daisuke Miura, 3-1 over the Hiroshima Carp.

The right-hander scattered three walks and three hits over five scoreless innings, and the BayStars’ pen held on for four innings, despite some danger from both former closer Yasuaki Yamasaki and his current closer Kazuki Mishima.

Gunkel wins 2nd for Tigers

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Joe Gunkel (2-0) allowed a run in 6-1/3 innings as the Hanshin Tigers beat the Chunichi Dragons 3-1 with Robert Suarez getting his second save.

Jerry Sands had two hits and a walk for the Tigers, who opened the scoring on Koji Chikamoto’s leadoff homer in the first, and broke a 1-1 sixth-inning tie on a walk and singles from Sands and Yosuke Yokawa.

Giants win virus bowl

At Tokyo Dome, the Yomiuri Giants responded to a string of coronavirus infections with a come-from-behind 2-1 Central League win against the Yakult Swallows, who are also without infected players.

Swallows rookie Yuto Kanekubo worked five scoreless innings, but the game unraveled in the eighth, when the tying run scored on a passed ball, and the go-ahead run came in on a routine two-out fly at the wall that was not caught after left fielder Kotaro Yamasaki and center fielder Yasutaka Shiomi nearly collided.

Taishi Hirooka, traded to the Giants in March for southpaw Kazuto Taguchi, was credited with an RBI triple on the play.

“He’s a player with many unseen talents,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said when asked about Hirooka without elaborating that one of those talents might be luck.

In-form Zelous Wheeler was scratched from his start in left field immediately before the start of the game and replaced by base-running adventurer Soichiro Tateoka.

Tateoka saved the game with a two-out bases-loaded catch in the second that held Yakult to a run. Hara declined to say anything about Wheeler’s situation, saying, “I’ll let the team announce that.” It was no surprise when the club then said Wheeler had tested positive, too.

Giants-Swallows highlights

Giants suffer NPB’s 2nd outbreak

Less than 10 days into the 2021 season, and Japan has already had two outbreaks among it’s top 12 teams, following positive tests by Yomiuri Giants players, Hochi Shimbun reported Sunday.

Positive tests were revealed Sunday for center fielder and two-time Central League MVP Yoshihiro Maru, and infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima. Both started Saturday’s game against the Yakult Swallows, who announced the league’s first outbreak, on Wednesday.

In addition to Swallows catcher Akihisa Nishida, who tested positive, the team sent five other players home out of concern for their contact with infected players and staff.

The Giants have also re-tested infielder Akihiro Wakabayashi, whose ninth-inning pinch-hit RBI double secured the hosts a tie against Yakult at Tokyo Dome.

Last season, when Nippon Professional Baseball played a 120-game regular season, one game was postponed out of concern for the virus, while two outbreaks were reported.

The Hanshin Tigers’ president resigned over his team’s infections, while Lotte Marines outfielder Ikuhiro Kiyota has been indefinitely suspended for breaking protocols on the road and becoming infected during an outbreak that caused the team to deactivate a third of its roster.

Players sidelined specifically for concern due to coronavirus infections can be re-activated in less than the usual 10 days when they are declared virus-free.

Active roster moves 4/4/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 4/14, unless marked with an asterisk. Those players are being deactivated under coronavirus protocol rules and may be reactivated when declared safe.

Central League


GiantsIF66Kazuya Katsuki
GiantsIF68Yuto Akihiro
GiantsOF39Soichiro Tateoka
BayStarsP12Kousuke Sakaguchi
SwallowsP38Yugo Umeno
SwallowsP48Yuto Kanakubo


GiantsIF0Daiki Masuda *
GiantsIF5Hiroyuki Nakajima *
GiantsIF37Akihiro Wakabayashi *
GiantsIF52Takumi Kitamura *
GiantsOF8Yoshihiro Maru *
GiantsOF9Yoshiyuki Kamei *
BayStarsP48Masaya Kyoyama
SwallowsP62Hiroaki Saiuchi

Pacific League


LionsIF8Kento Watanabe
LionsIF63Ryusei Tsunashima


LionsIF5Shuta Tonosaki

Eat your Wheaties

One doesn’t make light of the coronavirus pandemic, but it has given us some great moments by making coaches’ and players’ audible during games, as happened Monday in a Yomiuri Giants intrasquad game at Okinawa Cellular Stadium.

Hiroyuki Nakajima hit a ground rule double he thought was a home run and as he was ordered back to second by the umpire, one could hear voices from the dugout giving him — as they used to say on “Leave it to Beaver — the business.

“You should drink protein,” and “Eat more rice,” were two of things shouted at Nakajima as he retreated to second base.

As a young shortstop with the Seibu Lions, Nakajima had a tremendous physique and generated a lot of power, so in a March 2011 interview I asked about his training and nutrition regimen.

“I lift, but I don’t take any extra nutrition or supplements, unless my teammates give me amino acid stuff, and then I take those to humor them,” he said then, making me wonder if that is still his routine and if a teammate might have been on the money.

In Monday’s live chat with Warren Cromartie, I mentioned how new pitching coach Masumi Kuwata was ridiculed by former players for doing weight training in the 1980s. There is a suspicion of weight training among older players in Japan, which makes little sense. It’s almost as if to engage in strength training goes against the nation’s snobbish assertion that Japanese players are good, despite lacking physical strength, because they practice to the ends of the earth to execute in games.

Japan’s Colonel Curmudgeon, Isao Harimoto recently said of players doing weight training in camp, “The game is about hitting a ball with a bat. The time spent building muscles that might hinder you as a hitter or a pitcher would be better spent practicing hitting and pitching.”

Every team has weight rooms and strength coaches, but many teams see them as more of an accessory for the players who want to make use of them. I used to think all the teams hired strength coaches based on expertise, but according to players, some teams apparently use that position as just another way to employ a former player with few other job prospects.

Had Shohei Ohtani played for a different team than the Nippon Ham Fighters, it’s possible he would have only acquired more knowledge about strength training on his own. In 2018, Hanshin Tigers pitcher Shintaro Fujinami revealed he’d been a pro for five seasons and had never been taught about the need for nutrition or recovery.

With the Fighters, the organization sets the strength and fitness programs, but Japanese style is for the manager to make changes if he doesn’t like what’s going on. A few years ago a Lions trainer told me that nothing had changed in the way Lions players were expected to train in his five seasons there.

The Hawks did a 180 when Kimiyasu Kudo, who studies sport science, became manager. Their previous GM, Itaru Kobayashi, had expanded the club’s medical and training staff base, but under old-school manager Koji Akiyama, the staff’s input was limited. Kudo changed things.

Whether Nakajima takes protein now or not at his age is no big deal, but it perhaps a good sign that some on the Giants bench at least knew enough to rib him about it.