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03/27/2003 Archived Entry: "Japanese Baseball News: Team Reports and News"

Team Reports

Yomiuri When he opens the season with minor league rehab starts, Kazuhiro Kiyohara will be allowed to bat twice on opening day. However, he will have to face Yuhei Takai, who has been clocked as high as 95mph. They will play it by ear from there as to when he will be back at the big club level. Kiyohara took 60 swings in batting practice Tuesday and participated in defensive drills. He says that he's at about 80%....Gary Rath has resumed throwing after rehabbing an inflammed shoulder, appearing in the bullpen for an 80 pitch session. When he will be back with the team, though, is unknown. He will throw again Wednesday.

Yakult Team officials formally announced the addition of righthander Jason Beverlin, who will make $350,000 this season with the Swallows plus an undisclosed signing bonus.He will wear number 34....Catcher Atsuya Furuta will be on the first team roster for opening day and says he can even pinch hit despite suffering from a ring finger fracture. He plans to take pain killers before the game. One has to wonder about Furuta's post playing day health. He has been taking lots of pain killers and cortisone shots the last couple of years due to bad knees and now this.

Chunichi Manager Hisashi Yamada has asked the team's oendan (organized cheering section) to not use any noisemakers when the club's foreign players are at the plate. Ivan Cruz and Alex Ochoa aren't bothered by the racket, but Yamada apparently feels it would be better for their concentration since they aren't used to the decibels kicked up by the rooting section....19 year old second year pitcher Yuichi Hisamoto has made the opening day squad after providing sterling relief in the spring.

Hanshin Bird brained 82 year old owner Shunjiro Kuman recently had surgery for lung cancer and was released from hospital last Wednesday. He then accompanied the team to a temple in Nishinomiya to pray for a winning season....Leftfielder Tomoaki Kanemoto, who has a 472 consecutive every inning of every contest streak going, vowed to play in all 140 tilts this season, too....Veterans Tetsuro Kawajiri and Atsushi Kataoka will begin the season in the minors while rookie lefthander Yasuhiro Nakamura will open on the big club roster. In addition, Lou Pote has been dubbed the closer

Hiroshima More than 50 players and team officials took a trip to a Hiroshima area shrine and prayed for a winning season. The Carp were encouraged by posting the second best exhibition game record this spring.... According to a story in Sankei Sports, Jimmy Hurst doesn't much care for Japanese food, so he's been eating a lot of fast food lately. In fact, in Tuesday's workout, he said he had a backache from eating too much pizza and also suffered a recent case of constipation....Second baseman Kazuki Fukuchi did all but challenge Yakult backstop Atsuya Furuta to a duel, when he made this statement: "it's a blessing he's injured. I don't care if he knows it, but I'm going to go on him. A lot." Fukuchi racked up eight steals during the spring. Keep in mind that this guy has never even been a regular player and he's calling out a future Hall of Fame inductee? Talk about cheek!

Yokohama Leftfielder Takanori Suzuki announced that he is gettig married on April 10th to a female reporter named Nagasawa (sorry, I don't know how to reader her first name. Maybe Momoyo?). The pair have been dating since last May. Suzuki says that if they have a son, he wants him to be either a pro baseball player or a pro wrestler. In any event, Nagasawa will quit her job to be a housewife....Rookies Shuichi Murata and Shogo Kimura will begin the regular season with the big club. Manager Daisuke Yamasahita says that Murata is sticking around due to his versatility defensively, being able to play second, third and first. However, what this kid really needs is some at bats in the minors and not bench time, especially since they drafted him number two for his stick and not his glove...For you scouts out there, the Stars apparently are going to allow outfielder Mitsuru Tanaka, who could be a nice leadoff hitter for some MLB team, languish. You might want to talk to the ballclub about posting him. He's got outstanding speed, a cannon, and gap power. He's stronger physically than Ichiro is. Just a thought.

Seibu Daisuke Matsuzaka threw 60 pitches in the pen Wednesday as a tuneup for his opening day start on Friday. Since Nippon Ham manager Trey Hillman said that he plans to have his team run on the righthander, Matsuzaka delivered all his pitches using a slide step....Alex Cabrera was at Wednesday's workout, but due to an aching shoulder, he skipped batting practice. He will try swinging the bat Thursday and see how he feels. Manager Haruki Ihara said that he isn't going to try to force it with his slugger, leaving open the possibility that Cabrera may not play opening day....Scott McClain is expected to be back in the lineup the first week of April after rehabbing an oblique muscle pull. He's begun taking batting practice and he will make some minor league starts starting Saturday.

Daiei The Hawks announced that fans coming into Fukuoka Dome for opening day will have their bags searched in the hopes that it will help prevent terrorist incidents....Righthander Hayato Terahara pitched well in a simulated game Tuesday, allowing just two hits to 14 hitters and striking out three. He is likely to make a start against Kintetsu on April 2nd.

Kintetsu Rookie infielder Shinji Shimoyama will begin the season on the roster.

Orix Centerfielder Yoshitomo Tani's fiance, olympic judo gold medalist Ryoko Tamura, will throw out the first pitch at the club's home opener at Kobe Green Stadium on March 31st....Pitcher Masahiko Kaneda suffered a calf muscle pull during a workout Tuesday and will be out three weeks to a month....The Blue Wave had a practice game against their minor league squad and lost 3-2. amassing just six hits. Orix lost its last seven exhibition matches.

Hideki Matsui Joe Torre is quoted in the U.S. baseball press as saying that Matsui is likely to bat fifth in the Yankees lineup this season....The Sporting News Ken Rosenthal with his 2003 Rookie of the Year prediction: "Hideki Matsui, Yankees. "Godzilla" will follow Kazuhiro Sasaki and Ichiro Suzuki as the third Japanese winner in the last four seasons. Seibu Lions shortstop Kazuo Matsui could extend the run next year"....Matsui went 2-4 Tuesday, both knocks being singles. He struckout and flew out in his other times up.

Miscellaneous Former Yokohama Bay Stars infielder Lou Merloni has been released by Boston and picked up by San Diego....Three U.S. firms are reportedly examining the possibility of buying Fukuoka Dome....Rod Beaton, in an article for USA Today, believes that Hee-seop Choi has more pure power than Hideki Matsui. Cubs fans should enjoy that....Tsuyoshi Shinjo went 0-1 with a stolen base Tuesday against the Dodgers.... Cardinals outfielder So Taguchi went 1-3 against the Orioles, the hit a double to right....Tomokazu Ohka went five shutout innings against Florida, limiting them to three hits.

Today's Pictures

Jimmy Hurst Takes Some Speicla Hitting Practice Tuesday

Hanshin Manager Senichi Hoshino Prays for Victory at a Temple

Yomiuri "Greedy and Stupid" Says Kuehnert

See story at: Japan Times Article

Matsui Works Hard to Fit In

See story at: South Florida Sun-Sentinel Article

Adjustments Will Determine Matsui's Success in MLB

Mel Antonen went to several players who had been with Japanese teams and asked them about who Hideki Matsui will do. See article at: USA Today Article

Alex Ramirez, Marine Develop Friendship

See story at: Marines Online Article

Even in Wartime, Military Dependents Can't Give Up Baseball

See story at: Pacific Stars and Stripes Article

Lions' Parent Firm Maneuvers to Restore Financial Health

See story at:Japan Times Article

Off Topic: Sports Arena Security

See story at: Seattle P-I Article

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