Central League Report

Neither Yoshimi Nor Takahashi Very Good in 3-1 Bay Stars Victory

///////////////Team/////////////// 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Yokohama Bay Stars 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 3 13 0
Chunichi Dragons 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 8 2

Yokohama starter Yuji Yoshimi and his opposite number with the Chunichi Dragons, Akifumi Takahashi, were both touched for five hits and a run in three innings, not a very good day out by either man. And it deteriorated from there for the Nagoya squad, which saw the two deciding runs scored with the aid of defensive miscues in a 3-1 loss. And spring training is unnecessary according to many players? Please.

Yokohama loaded the bases in the first with one out on a single and two walks, but the next two men couldn’t get out of the infield and the incipient rally was extinguished.

In the second, though, catcher Kazunari Tsuruoka singled to right and, one out later, third basmean Shogo Kimura singled to left. Shortstop Kazuya Fujita singled to center to juice the bags. Leftfielder Masaaki Koike singled to left for a run, but the trail man, Kimura, was thrown out at the plate. A groundball off the bat by second baseman Seiichi Uchikawa then closed the curtain on the inning.

Chunichi had two on and two out in the bottom of the inning and didn’t get it done. However, they did knot it in the third, as second baseman Keiji Kamada singled to left and was then thrown out on the basepaths (steal attempt? Trying to stretch it into a double?) and, one out later, rightfielder Yoshinori Ueda doubled to left. Shortstop Hirokazu Ibata, batting in the three hole this season, brought Ueda in with a double to right and it was 1-1. That would be it for the Dragons offense for the rest of the match.

Yokohama would go up for good in the sixth, when DH Takanori Suzuki’s grounder was fumbled by first baseman Ryota Arai. Rightfielder Yuki Yoshimura singled to left. Both men were sacrificed along. Reliever Yuya Ishii plunked centerfielder Ryusuke Minami to fill the bases. Kimura tapped a little ground ball out toward first and beat it out as Suzuki crossed for the 2-1 edge.

Two innings later, pinch hitter Shinji Niinuma singled to center and backup centerfielder Mitsuru Tanaka singled to left. They were advanced on a sacrifice. Niinuma then scored on a passed ball that handed Yokohama an insrance tally.

The Dragons got a leadoff single in the ninth to make the next two hitters the tying runs, but that promise was undermined with a popup and a game ending double play ball.

Rookie Yokohama reliever Kazuya Takamiya was clocked at 88mph during his flawless inning of work.

The Bay Stars also showed something this spring they didn’t much last season, the willingness to run. They stole three bases, two of them by Kimura, Sunday after thieving only 37 in 2005.

Takahashi said that his pitches and his balance all sucked.

When asked about hitting third, Ibata, who was the two hole hitter last year, responed that “it was no big deal.”


Hanshin Outfielder Shane Spencer sprained his right ankle getting out of a car Saturday and will be out indefinitely.
Lefthander Kei Igawa came down with a fever and missed practice Sunday. He will also be held out of a scheduled intrasquad game start on March 1st.

After earlier expressing the hope that he would be ready for the regular season, lefthanded reliever Jeff Williams will head to the states Sunday to have his surgically repaired knee checked. He is now saying that it will be difficult to be in top shape by Opening Day, it isn’t impossible. While Williams is out, Atsushi Nomi, who was battling for a rotation shot, will fill the Aussie’s role in the pen.

Outfielder Lin Wei-tzu will join Taiwan’s WBC team Monday. That means that his homeland’s meda has been requesting interviews and it has been a bit of an adjsutment for him. “I’ve been speaking nothing but Japanese recently and when I tried to use Chinese, the words wouldn’t come out for a few seconds,” he said. Lin, incidently, speaks excellent Japanese. Taiwan plays Japan on March 4th.

Hiroshima Ryuji Yokoyama threw 65 pitches in the bullpen Sunday. He willl endeavor to win the fourth starter’s job this spring.

A Carp pitching coach said that on days that John Bale can’t close, Katsuhiro Nagakawa will, at least for now. Nagakawa, who has excellent stuff, especially his Sasaki-style forkball, was once the closer, but has been on the skids lately thanks to inconsistency. Bale, by the way, threw 43 pitches in the pen Sunday, tossing in a cutter here and there. “I want to appear in 60 games,” he told a reporter.

Yomiuri Lefthander Kimiyasu Kudoh threw 176 pitches in the bullpen Sunday with reserve outfielders Yoshiyuki Kamei and Takayuki Onishi standing there at the plate to give the post-40 year old veteran a frame of reference.

Righthander Masumi Kuwata threw batting practice Sunday and was inducing a lot of ground balls during the 56 pitch outing. He then threw another 57 in the bullpen.

Due to rain, a scheduled practice game was canceled Sunday before the Giants rolled up this phase of their spring camp and prepared for the exhibition season.

Manager Tatsunori Hara, while saying that he was very satisfied with his team’s spring training to date, also disclosed that he might hold pitcher Gary Glover and first baseman Joe Dillon out of exhibition games with other Central League clubs. How they are going to compensate for the at bats Dillon requires to get ready for the regular season and the innings that Glover will need to obtain the sharpness and focus that will aid him in being successful after Opening Day, though, isn’t known. The Japanese aren’t as big on “b” league games as teams in the majors are. Dillon will be left back in the minor league camp in order to rehab a back problem as will outfielder Yoshinobu Takahashi, who is still healing from ankle surgery.
Glover, though, may start in a practice game against China’s WBC outfit on the 28th.

Catcher Shinnosuke Abe will be seeing a lot of his early at bats as a DH.

WBC 20 of Japan’s WBC members took in the morning practice game between Korea and the KBO’s Lotte Giants. Lotte won it 5-3 even though both Chan-ho Park and Sun-woo Kim pitched in that game for the national nine and three hole hitter Seung-yeop Lee smoked an eighth inning RBI triple as part of a 2-4 effort. Japan manager Sadaharu Oh said that the score didn’t reflect the strength of the Korean contingent, as he thinks they might have been a bit jet lagged.

Lee stuck around to see the main event, the Japan-Chiba Lotte Marines faceoff, and commented, “they did everything right. That is one tough team.”

Miscellaneous Mariners catcher Kenji Johjima will be part of a new series of promotional commercials for the team that will be airing soon. No word, though, on just what Johjima did in his spot, especially since the former Hawks says the content is a “secret.”

There will be one involving Ichiro Suzuki, but it will have to employ highlight footage from last season since Ichiro is still back in Japan.

Not a good day for Hideki Matsui Saturday during defensive drills at the Yankees spring training sight in Tampa, Florida. First, he came within a hair’s breadth of colliding with shortstop Derek Jeter. Then he lost a fly ball in the sun. And he made it a hat trick of miscues by dropping a fly ball. That caused Godzilla to be booed, perhaps by some of the thousands from New York who winter in Florida every year. To add to all that, he got sawed off facing Scott Proctor, but then got a new stick and promptly lined the next pitch off the rightfield fence. He also hit against Shawn Chacon.

Manager Joe Torre will be giving Matsui more time to rest this spring because he believes that the ex-Yomiuri favorite has been feeling the pressure of withdrawing from the WBC and has been trying to do too much as a result. Recently, the American press has written of Matsui coming under criticism from his countrymen for his non-participation in the tournament, but it has been so muted in the press that it is barely detectable. So the pressure Matsui feels is mostly self-generated.

And then there is this item from the Palm Beach Post: ” Hirokazu Miyamori, 32, flew from Ishikawa, Japan to New York to Tampa just to see his favorite player, Hideki Matsui, and hold up a bright yellow sign that read “Go Go Matsui!” in red Japanese characters. Miyamori, who owns a string of curry shops in Japan, is planning to open one next year in Midtown Manhattan “because he lives in Midtown,” Miyamori said, pointing to the left fielder.” Now THAT is a fan. Daft, perhaps,, but a real fan nonetheless.

On top of that, a guy named Kaz Ono is doing a book about Reds outfielder Tuffy Rhodes, according to the Hamilton [Ohio] Journal-News. Ono says that “Rhodes is so popular in Japan that he can’t go anywhere without being mobbed, ” people even following him into the bathroom, he claims.

Shinji Mori has no problem with American food, chowing down on some buffalo wings and crab legs a couple of days ago, as this photo attests. He was taken there by a reporter for the St. Petersburg Times, who interviewed the former Seibu setup man for a feature story that ran in Sunday’s paper.

Ted Heid, the Mariners’ director of Pacific Rim operations, told the Tacoma Herald this a couple of days ago concerning Roberto Petagine, who the M’s recently signed: “He raked the ball over there (in Japan) and he raked last year when he was with the Red Sox,” Petagine worked out at first base Wednesday but he’s apparently more suited to the DH role. “He’s like Edgar (Martinez),” Heid said. “He doesn’t bring a glove to the ballpark.”

Dodgers righthander Takashi Saito participated in infield drills Saturday at the club’s Vero Beach camp site.

Rockies hillsman KeiichiYabu threw 40 pitches in batting practice Saturday.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said Saturday that shortstop Juan Uribe will be the number two hitter this season providing that he can show he can handle it. Last year’s second man in the lineup, second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, will be dropped to sixth or seventh to give him more chances to drive in runs.

Are you ready for Kazuo Matsui, .300 hitter? Sports Nippon quotes Mets batting instructor Rick Down as saying that the new stroke Matsui is working on could result in him getting to that figure. Wouldn’t that be something? Let’s hope Down is right.

Nice call by the Brewers on extending field boss Ned Yost. If their pitching staff can step it up, they could be a pain in the butt to the Cardinals and Cubs this season in the NL Central.

Speaking of the Cubbies, third baseman Aramis Ramirez has a quad problem and won’t be part of the Dominican Republic’s WBC team.

As a demonstration of how intense the focus has been on figure skater Shizuka Arakawa winning that gold medal, the medal cermony was watched by 43.1% of the sets in the Kanto Region (Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, Yokohama, etc) and 36% in the Kansai (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, etc). Thank God it’s all over, though. The olympics were just sucking up too much of the media air. Now let’s turn to baseball, okay folks?