Tag Archives: Rakuten Eagles

Talking ’bout practice

Japan’s 10 February preseason games scheduled to be played in Okinawa Prefecture to closed practice games, Nippon Professional Baseball’s secretary general Atsushi Ihara said Monday according to Sponichi Annex.

Japan is currently under a state of emergency until at least March 7, although Okinawa intends to lift its emergency status after Feb. 28. Preseason games after that date are still expected to take place with crowds limited to 5,000, while Ihara said that since the government currently wants people to return home after 8 p.m., all preseason games held where there is a state of emergency will be played in the day.

GM Ishii playing catch-up

In Kin, Okinawa Prefecture, Masahiro Tanaka became the pitcher with the second-highest career win total to throw a bullpen at the Rakuten Eagles camp, when manager and general manager Kazuhisa Ishii threw 37 pitches, Sponichi Annex reported Monday.

The 47-year-old Ishii, whose 182 career wins in Japan and the majors are five more than the 32-year-old Tanaka has from his years with the Eagles and New York Yankees, wanted some practice before throwing live BP during the third phase of the Eagles training camp.

“I quit when I stopped wanting to play baseball, and I didn’t think I’d start again. By throwing (BP) I’ll be able to communicate with players from within the game itself,” said Ishii, who spent time that morning sprinting up a slope on the auxiliary field.

“I’ve been aging but I want to keep my body in good shape. The players are all well conditioned and I want to be able to keep up.”

Dragons count Viciedo among the healthy

Chunichi Dragons first baseman Dayan Viciedo, has bounced back from a dislocated left shoulder, according to those who count BP home runs in spring camp. At the Central League club’s minor league camp in Yomitan, Okinawa, four of Viciedo’s 45 swings launched balls over the outfield fence, Tokyo Sports reported.

Viciedo hurt the shoulder playing defense in an Oct. 28 game against the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium.

Fukudome also trying to keep up

Kosuke Fukudome, the oldest active player in NPB at the age of 43, is back with the Dragons this season for the first time since 2006, and is also trying to keep up with the kids.

In other news:

Seibu’s dome remake to include home run bar

New seating at Seibu Dome, which is getting a makeover ahead of the season with new turf, seats in the outfield that had been artificial turf and before the roof was constructed, grass. On Monday the club introduced the Meito Home Run Bar Panorama Terrace, 140 places in right field equipped with swivel-chair bar seating and the corporate sponsorship of the Meito chocolate company.

BayStars holding another clinic for women

The DeNA BayStars said Monday it will hold another clinic aimed at women players at its minor league indoor facility in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, on Feb. 20 with Eri “The knuckle princess” Yoshida and former pro player Yu Kato—among the three women instructors.

Word out of Boston…

… is that right-handed free-agent reliever Hirokazu Sawamura’s talks with the Boston Red Sox are progressing, according to Chris Cotillo.

Profile: Hirokazu Sawamura

Getting to work

A day after arriving at the Rakuten Eagles spring camp in Kin, Okinawa Prefecture, and admitting to some nerves in his old crimson getup, Masahiro Tanaka threw his first NPB bullpen in eight years on Sunday.

Throwing to third-year player Hikaru Ota, whose 67 games last year were the most of the Eagles’ catching staff, Tanaka said it was his job to take the lead, Full-count reported.

“Even me, I didn’t feel I had done enough to establish that communication (with my catcher) when I was young, so it’s on me to go to him and establish an atmosphere where he can easily ask me things,” said Tanaka, who admitted it was a little different throwing NPB’s ball.

“I was a little off with this (NPB) ball, but nothing major.”

Curmudgeon corner

If it’s Sunday, it’s time for Isao Harimoto’s Curmudgeon Corner, his sports section on TBS Network’s Sunday Morning. This morning, he was joined by fellow traveler and former Yomiuri Giants teammate Tsuneo Horiuchi.

Both Horiuchi and Harimoto said Tanaka’s return is a chance to boost Japan’s game, implying that there is something to be learned from playing abroad.

Horiuchi said, however, that it was proper for Tanaka to return to Japan and for Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano to stay here for 2021. To be honest, I can only assume he meant individual Japanese players should stay home to improve the quality of the domestic game. But if Tanaka hadn’t gone abroad, he wouldn’t be the pitcher he now is, so that’s a problematic argument.

Moving on to other things about camp, the segment’s announcer showed some of the novel training methods being tried out this spring, starting with Giants farm team manager Shinnosuke Abe having batters do some lifting barbells on the sideline after BP.

“The essence of baseball is hitting a ball with a bat. You want to be careful about building up the wrong muscles, because they can impede your swing,” Harimoto said in what was for him an unusually well-phrased observation. “Horiuchi-san will tell you it’s the same for pitchers.”

New math

Horiuchi agreed, but added that novel training was a kind of fun thing for coaches, and that thinking outside the box is probably a good thing, upon which the focus switched to the Seibu Lions’ camp, where players executed a standard footwork drill while solving a series of simple arithmetic problems a coach shouted at them.

“Complete waste of time that would be better spent building up their physical condition,” Harimoto said. “If they want to learn arithmetic, they should do it in the offseason.”