temperature at the team's camp in Geelong, Australia was a crispy 100 degrees
Friday, so manager Bobby Valentine will move the beginning of practices
from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. until things cool down.
The mayor of Geelong popped in present-handed for the Marines owner and disclosed that they are looking at making $29 million Australian in improvements to the ballpark and environs with hopes of not only keeping the ballclub coming back but even attracting other Japanese nines down under. Australia as the new Arizona?
Somebody alert Will Carroll! Submariner Shunsuke Watanabe has a new fastball with a gyroscope like spin on it that he can throw hard. In the past, when Watanabe had tried to pin the radar gun in the high 80's instead of his usual 82-83mph, he got spanked. But catcher Tasuku Hashimoto says that this new heater feels heavier to him than the old version. He is also working on a changeup.
DH Julio Zuleta cut his batting practice short due to hurting his right elbow while sleeping and he aggravated it in the cage.
Nippon Ham Big things will be expected out of young righty Yu Darvish this year and he has yet to make an appearance in the bullpen, stating that he is focusing first on his conditioning and will gradually work his way into taking the mound. Darvish was in demand on the rubber teriyaki circuit and in the media during the offseason and didn't get to workout as much as he probably should have. The Fighters' nutritionist has been adding doses of collagen to Darvish's meals because, he prounded, it is good for the joints.
Veteran infielder Makoto Kaneko was named team captain by manager Trey Hillman.
Sapporo Dome may now be joining the naming rights party, as city fathers, lamenting inadequate tax revenues, will talk about the issue in the coming months. Shit. Seibu Dome will officially be known as the Goodwill Dome this season, which makes me confused as to whether I should see baseball there or use it as a place to dropoff my old unused clothes. In any event, they have attempted to sell naming rights to other facilities and had a nibble on just one of them.
Rookie infielder Yo Chong-so was delayed reporting to camp due to the Taiwanese government looking into his army status. Adult Taiwanese, much like the Koreans, have to serve a mandatory stint in the military. He then hurt himself while doing windsprints Friday.
Orix Pitcher Yoshihisa Hirano hopes to build on his inconsistent debut campaign this season and would also like to play for the Japanese olympic team at Beijing. But right now, he says, he isn't good enough to be considered for it, so he plans to try to step it up so that he will get a roster nod for the natinal squad.
Former Yomiuri utilityman Daisuke Motoki, now a baseball commentator, was at the Buffaloes camp and had a brief chat with former teammate Kazuhiro Kiyohara.
Reliever Lance Carter caught a cold and was given the day off due to a strong cool breeze swirling around the area.
Rakuten Tickets for advance seats further back in the area behind home plate have been reduced from 5000 yen to 4000, but ducats for those along the first base line have been raised by 500 yen to 2500.
Righthander Yasuhiro Ichiba threw 40 pitches during batting practice to two hitters Friday and expressed that he was optimistic that he could finish 2007 with a winning record. "I spun a couple of fastballs back over the plate, but otherwise I was happy with my mechanics today," he told the press.
Phenom Masahiro Tanaka unveiled his slider Friday and impressed one and all, manager Katsuya Nomura believing that he can get pro hitters to chase it out of the zone. His pitch count was a reasonable 48, but he really needs to focus on his balance to keep the ball down. Along with the slide piece, he threw his curve, changeup and forkball.
Nomura then took Tanaka aside and had him analyze what was wrong with Kanehisa Arime's delivery. Tanaka said that Arime's upper body isn't in synch with his legs, something that has dogged Arime his entire career. That basically results in Arime throwing almost exclusively with his upper body, robbing his stuff of velocity and sharpness. Nomura was impressed with Tanaka's observation.
Youngster Shingo Matsuzaki, who came up with a donut in the win column in 2006, had his initial bullpen this spring and made it a substaintial one, flinging 131 pitches while Nomura stood nearby to observe.
Softbank Southpaw reliever C.J. Nitkowski aired it out for the first time this spring in the Hawks bullpen, totaling up 48 pitches while a lefthanded hitter stood in the batter's box. He told the press that he is physically at just about 100% and will likely be doing bullpens every other day.
Seibu Third year hillsman Hideaki Wakui wasn't scheduled to throw Friday, but with Hiroshima great Yutaka Ono, a future hall of famer who will be the Japanese olympic team's pitching coach, coming around for a visit that day he decided to hit the pen anyway for 60 deliveries in hopes that Ono will like what he sees and maybe put in a good word for him. When asked by reporters about Wakui, Ono basically said that he needs to put up some nice numbers to earn Ono and olympic skipper Senichi Hoshino's attention.
Meanwhile, shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima was concentrating on his footwork in aiming to improve on his league worst 16 errors last season. Nakajima is another one who would like to wear the Japanese flag emblem at Beijing.
Infielder Jeff Liefer has arrived in Japan and will report Saturday.