Tag Archives: pandemic


Hawks report infection on 1st team staff

The Pacific League’s SoftBank Hawks on Monday reported that a member of the first team staff has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The Hawks had 87 people tested Sunday following the news on Saturday that veteran outfielder Yuya Hasegawa, who is currently with the organization’s Western League farm team, had tested positive.

NPB coronavirus timeline

The Hawks postponed Sunday’s game against the Seibu Lions at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome because the Hawks said some first-team staff and players made use of the minor league facilities and they could not guarantee none had been exposed to the virus.

The infected staff member is currently asymptomatic, but two people with the first team who have been in close contact with the man in his 30s have been quarantined.

The team had said it would postpone its games against the Rakuten Eagles but traveled to Sendai on Monday and has indicated it will play unless advised not to.

The team said it would decide how to proceed upon consulting with the local health officials and the panel of specialists who have been advising Nippon Professional Baseball and pro soccer’s J-League in how to best operate during the pandemic.

Hasegawa was the sixth player to test positive, but the first since the season started on June 19. Two other infections were discovered in the PL’s Orix Buffaloes organization. The two men, one in his 20s and one in his 40s, had become ill and are now resting at their homes.

Tigers offered Fujinami to 6 PL teams: Report

Reports have been popping up all summer about the Central League’s Tigers talking with Pacific League teams about a trade involving their former marquee pitching prospect, Shintaro Fujinami. On Monday, a Bunshun Online story suggested that the big holdup on such a deal was fear on the part of the Tigers front office that Fujinami might recover his once impressive form with another team.

Fujinami was drafted out of high school the same year as Shohei Ohtani and was at the time they turned pro the far-more polished pitcher. Ohtani had long been diligent about his physical training and took advantage of what his first pro team could teach him in that area, Fujinami never took a step forward to add muscle to his slender frame.

After four years as a pro, Fujinami spent three weeks training with Yu Darvish at the end of 2016, and added about five kilograms of muscle. Afterward he said he had done weight training virtually every day since he started high school but had never learned about the need for rest days or the basics of nutrition.

Unlike the Nippon Ham Fighters, who handed Ohtani a new strength-training menu and instruction, the Tigers apparently are one of those old-school teams that don’t interfere with players’ individual strength training, since Fujinami was virtually as skinny after four seasons as he had been coming out of high school.

Fujinami’s career went in the toilet after three seasons in which he went 35-21 with a 2.86 ERA. Under manager Tomoaki Kanemoto from 2016-2018, he went 15-19 with a 3.91 ERA. The Bunshun online article blamed the Tigers, not for mismanaging his playing, but for failing to keep him in line off the field when he moved out of the team dormitories after the 2017 season.

On July 23, Fujinami looked solid in a start against the Hiroshima Carp, and manager Akihiro Yano, who had banished the right-hander to the farm team in March for being late to practice one time too many, said he wanted Fujinami to pitch again the following week, which has yet to happen. According to the Bunshun Online story, a team official said, “That’s not the manager’s decision to make.”

Even so, his second start against the Yakult Swallows, a week later, did go ahead and was even better.

Dragons sign pitcher Rodriguez from D roster

The Central League’s Chunichi Dragons on Sunday signed 23-year-0ol Cuban right-hander Yariel Rodriguez from their developmental roster, handing a standard contract. Rodriguez has pitched in five Western League games and is 2-0 with a 0.51 ERA over 17-2/3 innings with 16 strikeouts, five hits, no home runs and six walks.

Active roster moves 8/3/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/13

Central League




GiantsP35Toshiki Sakurai
GiantsP57Kyosuke Takagi
DragonsP13Yuki Hashimoto
DragonsOF60Yuki Okabayashi

Pacific League




EaglesIF34Tsuyoshi Yamasaki

Starting pitchers for Aug. 4, 2020

Pacific League

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

Naoyuki Uwasawa (1-1, 2.65) vs Kona Takahashi (2-3, 5.34)

Eagles vs Hawks: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Hayato Yuge (2-1, 2.94) vs Kodai Senga (3-1, 4.18)

Buffaloes vs Marines: Kyocera Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yoshinobu Yamamoto (3-1, 2.74) vs Manabu Mima (2-2, 5.71)

Central League

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

Hirotoshi Takanashi (1-2, 5.26) vs Allen Kuri (1-2, 4.66)

BayStars vs Dragons: Yokohama Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shoichi Ino (2-2, 3.27) vs Koji Fukutani (0-0, 0.00)

Tigers vs Giants: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Onelki Garcia (0-3, 4.01) vs Tomoyuki Sugano (5-0, 1.69)

It’s not all about money

After meeting with health experts and his counterpart from pro soccer’s J-League, NPB commissioner Atsushi Saito then met baseball team executives. And though Saito did not announce a date for Opening Day — in keeping with Japan’s current pandemic view of “It will be over when it’s over” — he did say that could come as early as next Monday.

For the last 30 years or so, I’ve studied the differences between MLB and NPB and spent an inordinate amount of that time researching the cost and benefits of sacrifice bunts. But at no time has the difference between the two institutions been more clear than in the way they’ve handled the COVID-19 crisis. It makes me proud to know that my favorite team for all its flaws and all of NPB’s, plays here and is not associated with MLB.

Although NPB greeted the news of a pandemic with one new official Opening Day after another and MLB owners sounded like the adults in the room, saying “Let’s see how this plays out.” The roles quickly reversed. Since the end of March, when Japan’s Prime Minister realized that ignoring the virus while praying at the Olympic alter would not keep the games in Tokyo this summer, Japan has dealt with the issue in a fairly straight-forward manner.

In my homeland, it’s been different.

MLB owners: “By staying safe at home, you people are costing me money. Let’s talk about furloughs and pay cuts because I have a right to protect the return on MY investment.”

NPB owners: “We’ll beat this thing together. Stay safe. Stay ready.”

Frankly, I consider the words of NPB commissioners to be next to useless, but that was because of Saito’s predecessor, Katsuhiko Kumazaki. A former prosecutor, Kumazaki seemed to understand little about the game and really couldn’t give a straight answer to any question. But I’m becoming a fan of Saito, who seems to understand when to be precise and when to show his humanity.

I’ve written before about how Japanese businesses are constrained to some extent by the social demand that they show some concern for their employees. And though Japanese companies will happily tread over talented individualists while promoting incompetent flatterers, they still spend on “company vacations” for the entire staff. It’s more about appearance than real caring but that’s what is expected of them.

In baseball, teams run brutal practices and used to tolerate physical abuse by coaches, but pennant winners always get vacations in December — these days a paid trip to Hawaii for virtually everyone in the organization and their families. It’s expected. It’s part of the cost of doing business.

And while MLB owners are clearly using the pandemic to tighten the screws on labor and on the bargaining rights of amateurs, NPB owners have been behaving as expected, calmly, as if the players and their families actually mattered.

In the final question of Monday’s press conference, a reporter asked Saito if the owners had considered pay cuts to the players.

“At this time, that is something that we are not thinking about,” he said with a slight chuckle that certainly sounded like he was envisioning an MLB owner being grilled for the answer to that question.