Interleague spring break is over, and we’re back.
In between the end of end of the IL and the return to league play we learned that the Yakult Swallows have rewarded third-year manager Shingo Takatsu with a two-year extension. If he completes it, he will be tied for the third-longest tenure among the franchise’s skippers with Mitsuo Uno (1956-1960). Tsutomu Wakamatsu managed for six seasons from 1999 to 2005, and Katsuya Nomura from 1990 to 1998.
We also learned that the Chunichi Dragons have had enough carping about making shortstop Akira Neo a two-way player, and have re-registered him as a pitcher. Recently on the Japan Baseball Weekly Podcast, I said former BlueWave and Swallows reliever Jun Hagiwara was the only recent convert to go from being a full-time position player to a full-time pitcher, but once I really began searching, I began coming across more and more.
The two who most recently preceded Hagiwara were also Orix BlueWave guys, Fumiaki Imamura, first baseman, third baseman 1999, pitcher from 2001, and Toshihiro Kase, outfielder first baseman, touted as a possible two-way player from 1996, eventually moved toward being more a pitcher from 2000.
The thing about Orix in the 1990s was that the BlueWave were managed by a guy who thrived on going against the grain. Akira Ogi told Hideo Nomo to pitch in the way that worked best for him when everyone else predicted his bizarre tornado delivery would never work. Ditto Ichiro Suzuki and his pendulum leg kick.
On Friday, we also had a mouthwatering pitchers’ duel between Kodai Senga and Masahiro Tanaka that died a bloody death in Fukuoka, while Cy Sneed had some kind of game for the Yakult Swallows.
Shall we get started?
Hawks 9, Eagles 4: At Fukukuoka Dome, this started well for Rakuten despite one of those off-balance Yuki Yanagita home runs that took him a second to realize wasn’t going to be a routine fly.
The Eagles took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the third before Taisei Makihara, a career. 267 slap-hitting middle infielder who has been smoking hot at the top of the order so far this season, and was placed between Cubans Alfredo Despaigne in the cleanup spot and Yurisbel Gracial in the six hole.
Continue reading NPB News: June 17, 2022