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01/03/2003 Archived Entry: "Japanese Baseball News: Nakamura to Apologize to Mets; Oh's Wife's Ashes Stolen"

Slugger Afraid he Alienated MLB and Hurt His Image

According to Sports Nippon, Norihiro Nakamura's agent, Masami Shigeta, will be coming to the U.S. to apologize to both the NY Mets as well as to Major League Baseball. Moreover, Nakamura is going to withdraw his insistence that the Mets failed to live up to a promise on reserving any announcement until the slugger could formally notify the Hanshin Tigers and the Kintetsu Buffaloes.

Sports Nippon speculates that part of this new development is due to apparent fears that Nakamura would be blackballed by MLB teams in the wake of the contract fiasco. The stocky third sacker has a clause in his pact with Kintetsu that would allow him to ask to be posted in 2005. At this point, though, even with the apology, it is unlikely any MLB club would bid an amount that Kintetsu would find acceptable even if Nakamura just destroys the Pacific League the next two years.

Kintetsu is planning a public relations offensive to boost Nakamura's image in the wake of the manner in which he handled his free agency by having him visit elementary schools and slapping 3000 posters in train stations run by the firm.

Hot Shots....

Former Nippon Ham and Kintetsu outfielder Nigel Wilson signed a minor league deal with the Yankees....Bob Matthews at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle predicts, "Hideki Matsui will disappoint with a .260 batting average, 20-25 homers and 70-80 RBIs." He also predicts a Rookie of the Year for Hee-seop Choi....Chaz Scoggins over at the Lowell {Massachusetts] Sun averred about Godzilla, " there's no guarantee that Hideki Matsui won't be the next Steve Kemp either, another major free agent mistake the Yankees once made." Yikes!....Orlando Sentinel writer David Whitley, with tongue in cheek, forecasts, "in a cost-cutting move, the Yankees [will] release the Iron Chef from his contract to prepare Hideki Matsui's pregame meal"....Yomiuri Giants rookie Hiroshi Kisanuki said that he would like to face Matsui in the majors someday, though he would only cross the ocean to try his luck if he was one of the best pitchers in Japan. "He will probably hit me, but if that happens it would be the greatest," the righthander enthused....Yomiuri number one starter Koji Uehara disclosed that he intends to add a slurve to his arsenal....Hanshin first year pitcher Naohisa Sugiyama spent New Year's Day by going to a temple near his home in Maizuru, Kyoto and enscribing the words "rookie of the year" on a prayer plaque before heading off for a running session....Yokohama Bay Stars ace Daisuke Miura may not be recovered in time from elbow surgery to open the regular schedule with the team. He also revealed that the cause of the bad wing may have been a mechanical change he made to accomodate throwing a cutter....According to Sankei Sports, Daiei Hawks manager Sadaharu Oh is reportedly considering starting 19 year old Hayato Terahara on opening day. That would be a big disappointment to veteran Kazumi Saito, who is hoping to earn that honor. Moreover, to some outside observers, this may seem more of a move to cash in on the Miyazaki Prefecture native's popularity rather than one based on sound baseball logic. In addition, Terahara had a phone conversation with Yakult lefty Shugo Fujii, who urged the youngster to polish his offspeed stuff so that hitters won't be able to sit on his fastball....Hideki Matsui will be coming to New York on January 9th, according to Sports Nippon. He will be looking for places to workout at and then be part of a press conference formally announcing his signing on the 14th....Meanwhile, at a function at the Prince Hotel in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo, Kazuo Matsui said that he wants to repeat his .300- 30-30 2002 performance, rap out 200 hits and extend his consecutive games played streak by appearing in all of his team's matches next season. He also said that he talked about how to approach his pending free agency with Norihiro Nakamura.... Chunichi Dragons reliever Shigetoshi Yamakita said that if he has the chance one day, he would like to pitch in the major leagues, according to Chunichi Sports....According to Sports Nippon, Bobby Valentine says that due to the smaller ballparks in the American League, he believes that Hideki Matsui will hit.300 with 30 homers and 100 RBIs "and should do as well as he did in Japan." He also said that Matsui can call him if he needs advice. One pearl of wisdom that the former Lotte and Mets boss offered was to not learn english so that he can't understand what the fans are yelling at him, "especially at first"....Meanwhile, Matsui played a round of golf Monday and posted a 108. And while that was going on, there is talk among the folks who run the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame of changing the criteria for induction to include Japanese who played in MLB, with Matsui's defection to the Yankees being the inspiration for that ....Tsuyoshi Shinjo jumped into the Matsui news mix when he sent the slugger 50 DVD's that have Japanese subtitles. The two aren't really friends and have barely ever talked, even when Shinjo was with Hanshin....The Mets, meanwhile, are now whining that they feel betrayed by Norihiro Nakamura, but they are still doing the song and dance on the December 19th item that supposedly caused the slugger to choose to stay with Kintetsu on the team's website "not something we're responsible for." So instead of criticizing Nakamura, maybe they need to ream out Bud Selig since he ultimately calls the shots on that site. This is one reason why MLB taking over the individual team sites was such a bad idea to begin with....The Chunichi Dragons are looking into the feasability of acquiring Raul Mondesi, though his $7 million salary is a big hindrance. They reportedly also have Alex Ochoa and Benny Agbayani in their sights....Yokohama ace Daisuke Miura is looking for a multi-year contract, but it appears he isn't going to get it....Daiei Hawks centerfielder Hiroshi Shibahara had his salary reduced by $240,000 to $720,000. However, shortstop Yusuke Torigoe took home a raise of $56,000 to $400,000....Orix is making overtures to Masato Yoshii, who they intend to use as a starter. They reportedly plan to offer him $2 million, but Yoshii says he is making finding a job in MLB his top priority. Unfortunately, he also says that the MLB offers he has gotten to date were of the minor league variety.... Also, Blue Wave reliever Kazuo Yamaguchi has started throwing against after having shoulder surgery earlier in the year, playing catch in a light workout....Former Yakult hurler Satoshi Iriki is going to join the Doosan Bears in the Korean pro league after trying out for the club over the weekend. He will make about $70,000 and pocketed a $30,000 signing bonus. Iriki will be the first Japanese brought in as a foreign player to join a Korean team....The Kintetsu Buffaloes still have Mike Kinkade on their short list of foreign players they may add for next season....Seibu Lions hurler Takashi Ishii says that he plans to add a sinker to hisrepetoire this coming spring....Hanshin manager Senichi Hoshino says he wants new addition Hideki Irabu to impart his experiences in MLB to the other players since the portly pitcher has been through so much. To which I would comment: bwahahahahahahahaha....In a real screwy development, the Yakult Swallows are saying that they may have catcher Atsuya Furuta take over the managerial reigns in two years, which must be upsetting news to the present field boss, Tsutomu Wakamatsu, whose contract will be up after 2004. Geez, what did Wakamatsu do to deserve this shabby treatment?. Yakult third baseman Akinori Iwamura, inspired by Barry Bonds, is going to shorten up on the bat a little in 2003, though he will sport a longer 34.5 inch bat, one half inch lengthier than what Bonds wields. His team also once again indicated its willingness to acceed to posting Iwamura possibly as soon as next winter....Orix may assign Makoto Suzuki the duty being the opening day pitcher. One wonders what Koo Dae-sung thinks of this....Roberto Petagine may not be able to report to Yomiuri on February 1st due to political violence in his native Venezuela. The last reports I saw indicated that he and wife Olga were in Florida. So what is going on here?....Lotte fourth round draftee Yoshihide Kato, 24, married sweetheart Yoyo, a 30 year old nurse, Christmas Eve.... Nippon Ham has its eyes on three Hokkaido natives for the November draft before they move to Sapporo on that island for 2004....The agent for Yokohama free agent closer Takashi Saito says that he is in negotiations with two unnamed MLB outfits. And Yokohama has another problem on its hands other than losing its stopper. Pitcher Yu Sugimoto insists that he will only accept a starting role and will refuse any requests to appear in relief. No, he doesn't care if the Stars release him since he thinks he can find a job in Korea, Taiwan or MLB. However, Yokohama also has the option of holding on to him in the minors pretty much in perpetuity, so he might want to think again....The new Hiroshima Carp ballpark will be ready by 2007, the team's front office says. It will be natural turf and will not have a dome atop it (yay!). Not so neat is the new Carp slogan, "rising heart." Any Baseball reader can come up with something better than that piece of crap....Daiei third baseman Hiroki Kokubo absorbed a $240,000 paycut to $1.7 million despite another 30 homers plus season....Japanese team owners have flatly refused a proposal by the players to reduce eligibility for free agency from 9-10 years to seven (and even then the player would only be permitted to go to another Japanese nine), citing each team's fear of losing star players. However, the owners are looking at reducing the payment a team that aquires an FA would have to make to that player's former club by a third.

Remains of Sadaharu Oh's Wife Stolen

See sad and bizarre story at: Asahi Shimbun Article

Meet the Monster

Note to Tommy Lasorda: Hideki Matsui has never played in the Olympics. See story at: NY Post Article

MLB Players on Hideki Matsui

See story at: Yomiuri Shimbun Article

Matsui Nabs Japan Air Endorsement Deal

See story at: NY Times Article

Sickels: Matsui Will be a Good MLB Player

See story at: ESPN Article

Ichiro Found to Have Evaded Taxes

See story at: Yomiuri Shimbun Article

See related article at: Japan Times Article

Jim Allen's Ten Points to Ponder for Japanese Baseball

See story at: Yomiuri Shimbun Article

Kazuo Matsui Salary Jacked Up to $2.8 Million

See story at: Japan Times Article

Steinbrenner Expects Matsui to Deliver

See story at: Japan Times Article

Matsui Looking to Post Some Numbers in the Bronx

See story at: Yomiuri Shimbun Article

Hillman Expects to Win With Nippon Ham

See story at: Yomiuri Shimbun Article

Orix Reaches Agreement With Makoto Suzuki

See story at: Japan Times Article

Kintetsu to Hold on to Otsuka

See story at: Japan Times Article

Onan Masaoka Takes Sabbatical From Career Despite Offers

See story at: Honolulu Star-Bulletin

USA Today Names Bonds Player of the Year

This is a really interesting story, so for those who haven't seen it, here it is: USA Today Article

Yamashita Has Tough Job Resurrecting Bay Stars

See story at: Yomiuri Shimbun Article

Top 20 Japanese Sports Stories of 2002

See story at: Yomiuri Shimbun Article

MVP Catcher Park Signs With SK Wyverns in KBO

See story at: Korea Times Article

Former Yomiuri Hurler Cho's Divorce Getting Nasty

See story at: Joong Ang Ilbo Article

The Year in the KBO

See story at: Korea Times Article

Final Curtain Falls on Taiwan Major League

See story at: Taipei Times Article

Acer Hosts Asian Little League Tourney

See story at: ETaiwan News Article

Local Companies in Guam May Get Tax Breaks to Help Rebuild Ballpark

See story at: Agana Pacific Daily News

Replies: 1 Comment

Good to see you back in action, Gary. Happy New Year.

Posted by Jeff @ 01/05/2003 12:37 AM EST

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