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01/21/2004 Archived Entry: "Japanese Baseball News: Takatsu, White Sox Haggling; Ichiro Giving Tips to Akahoshi"

Team Reports

Hanshin Centerfielder Norihiro Akahoshi has been getting advice on the mental approach to hitting from Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, according to Sankei Sports. The pair have hung out on the golf course and at restaurants on several occasions while Akahoshi picked Ichiro's brain. He talked about how Ichiro will purposely hit the top part of the ball to put a certain kind of spin on it, something Akahoshi finds "really difficult." The man whose name means "red star" hopes that this tutoring will help him get more infield hits and accumulate a Central League first 200 knocks. On what it's like to play golf with Ichiro, Akahoshi revealed that Ichiro plays the game righthanded and can drive it 330 yards while Akahoshi can only propel it 280....Ace Kei Igawa remains the only Tiger not to have signed a new contract, as he is seeking more than the $1.9 million that he is being offered. He told reporters that negotiations could carry over into spring training.

Chunichi Reliever Hitoki Iwase was fooling around with a cutter and a changeup, both of which he learned from lefthander Masahiro Yamamoto. Iwase's breaking ball arsenal usually consists of a shuuto and a slider, but he will continue working on the other two new pitches. Iwase also said that he welcomes the return of Kazuhiro Sasaki to Japan, positing that when you beat him you feel as if you have really done something and Iwase likes that challenge...25 year old pitcher Shinichiro Koyama has filed papers to marry his girlfriend, Yoko Kawamura, 25, a bank clerk. No date has been set yet for the ceremony or the reception. They met four years ago through mutual friends. Koyama says it was a case of love at first sight..Shigeki Noguchi, who will likely be the numberf two starter this coming season, says that he will throw 2500 pitches during spring training. Since there will be 26 days of workouts, that averages just under 100 deliveries per day.

Yomiuri Utilityman Daisuke Motoki is livid that he was relegated to staying in the minor league camp by Giants management while the rest of the first team players head off for Guam, so he is going to go the warm Pacific island at probably his own expense to train. Accompanying him will be backup catcher Yoshinori Murata and reserve infielder Tetsuji Kuroda....Young lefthander Masanori Hayashi threw 76 pitches in the bullpen Wednesday, many of them an overhand curve ball that he is learning from veteran Kimiyasu Kudoh. Hayashi hasn't mastered it yet, but if he does, CL hitters will have more to think about than Hayashi's forkball and slider....For you MLB pitching coaches who might end up schooling Hiroshi Kisanuki eight or nine years in the future, you might want to write this down because that what Kisanuki himself does. He's apparently a visual-type person and so he keeps notes on his performances and what he's thinking so that he can go over them later. Otherwise, he says, he would forget his thoughts later. A lot of coaches depend on audio cues to get their point across, but that often doesn't work for visually-oriented types like Kisanuki. Of course, keeping notes on opposing hitters is rather the done thing among some of baseball's best. But Kisanuki also includes how he was feeling and other issues. Should make for an interesting biography when his career is over.

Yakult Free agent closer Shingo Takatsu is being courted by the Chicago White Sox, according to Sankei Sports, who, if you read between the lines, have apparently come closest to the monetary compensation that Japan's all time saves leader is looking for. Milwaukee is also reportedly interested, though, since they are now up for sale, it is unlikely they are offering more than $500,000 in salary in this writer's opinion. In addition, L.A. and the Yankees have offered minor league deals. Takatsu's agent, Joe Urbon, is reportedly also talking to Florida, who has yet to make a definite offer. Thus, the windy city outfit appears to have the inside track, though Takatsu would still be taking a huge paycut since Yakult is offering around $2.5 million....Second year pitcher Yuhei Takai discussed the possibility of facing off against Kazuhiro Sasaki. "He's so great that you can't just go up to him and say hi," Takai said. Sasaki and Takai are both alumni of Tohoku High School. Japanese baseball etiquette would require that Takai, as Sasaki's junior,approach Sasaki if they play each other and offer his greetings.

Yokohama The Stars front office as well as manager Daisuke Yamashita have become much more cautious in discussing the status of Kazuhiro Sasaki, saying only that nothing has changed so far in waiting to see how Daimajin's disposition will shape up. Yamashita emphasized that he is concentrating, for now, on bolstering the starting rotation, paying particular attention to number one draft choice Daisuke Mori. Yamashita plans to not push Mori too hard in his first season with the aim of keeping the rookie healthy....In other Sasaki-related news, Yuji Yoshimi, who is currently wearing Sasaki's old number, 22, is considering giving it back to him should Sasaki rejoin the team....Tampa Bay owner Vince Naimoli visited the Stars office Wednesday Japan time in preparation for the Devil Rays coming to Tokyo to play the Yankees in the MLB season opener.

Seibu Manager Tsutomu Itoh, seeing that Kazuhiro Sasaki may be available for the olympics, is requesting that ,should Sasaki indeed be brought on board, Lions closer Kiyoshi Toyoda be left off since the ballclub will have three other pitchers participating in the Athens games, two of them for Taiwan....Pitchers Takashi Ishii and Tetsuya Shiozaki will begin spring training in the minor league camp, according to Hochi Sports. Ishii's season was cut short by injury and is looking to comeback while veteran sidearmer Shiozaki asked to work among the minor leaguers.

Lotte Even though he is back in uniform this season, pitcher Satoru Komiyama will continue writing a column for Shukan Baseball during the season....Lotte Group vice president Eisuke Hamamoto will assume the post of president of the ballclub later this month....Lotte has also hired a new statistical analyst, Paul Pupo. Pupo designed one of Bobby Valentine's restaurants, Bobby V's, in Corona, Queens, New York and has been a minor league executive....First baseman Seung-yeop Lee is a Nike endorser and both the Japanese and Korean subsidiaries of the U.S.-based company have pledged
cooperation in helping the slugger flog their logo.

Nippon Ham Versatile veteran Yukio Tanaka will be sporting glasses this season, acknowledging that his vision has deteriorated as he has gotten older.

Miscellaneous Mike Fish at CNN/SI, when questioned by a reader as to whether Ichiro, should he continue like he is, could be Hall of Fame material: "If he continues putting up comparable numbers over the next decade, I'd say he would be deserving of induction based on what he did in the majors. I don't think what he accomplished in Japan is or should be a factor." So Mikey, what do you think, then, about making veteran Japanese players ineligible for Rookie of the Year?...Japanese national team manager Shigeo Nagashima, even as it appears that he was just handed Kazuhiro Sasaki, has reportedly given up on attempting to break the two players per team limit imposed by the 12 Japanese pro clubs since their managers, with the exception of Daiei's Sadaharu Oh, are strongly opposed to sending any more than a pair to Athens....Getting back to Sasaki, he spent the day at home in Tokyo. A Yomiuri official is quoted by Sankei Sports as believing that it will take a month to sort out the former Mariner's contract situation. As to whether the Giants are interested in acquiring him, the official acknowledged that they need help in the closer role, but stopped short of saying they would definitely go after him. Rather, they want to see how this will all shake out first....Mets infielder Kazuo Matsui was reportedly being followed around by paparazzi, as he participated in a fan appreciation event with the team Tuesday. Jose Reyes, who is moving to second due to Matsui's acquisition, seems pretty copacetic about being nudged over, saying that "shortstop, second base, it's the same thing." It's not, but the Mets will now have arguably the finest keystone combination in baseball....Former Chunichi great Kenichi Yazawa has taken a job managing in the industrial leagues with the Nishi Tama Club, a club team not tied to any one company. In addition, former Lotte outfielder Ken Hirano has been hired by Sumitomo Metals Kashima branch as its head coach....NPB will issue its 640 page 2004 record guide in mid-February (Japanese language edition only). You can order it through Amazon Japan...If you're in Japan during the season, be prepared to go to the ballpark early, as all Pacific League games will begin at 6 p.m....The Japan High School Baseball Federation disciplined two high schools for player misbehavior Wednesday. Kyoto Seisho High School was forbidden from playing away games for violence within the ballclub while Kameyama High School, which is in Mie Prefecture, was similarly penalized for shoplifting and smoking incidents perpetrated by team members. The fedration also suspended the head coaches of several other high schools for offenses ranging from allowing junior high players to practice with them to, in one case, being caught driving while drunk.

Godzilla Matsui to Bring Pinstripes to Japan

See story at: Associated Press Article

Sasaki a Hard Guy to Know

See story at: Seattle Post-Intelligencer Article

Alonzo Powell Managing for Dayton

First, let me correct an assertion made by the writer in this piece: while it is true that both Shigeo Nagashima and Sadaharu Oh had won three consecutive batting titles before Powell came to Japan, so did Toei Flyers great Isao Harimoto and Lotte slugger
Hiromitsu Ochiai. Moreover, Ichiro won three consecutive batting titles at the same time Powell did. However, if you apply that standard just to the Central League, then Archdeacon's statement is correct.

See story at: Dayton Daily News Article

Olympian Task to Pick Japan Squad

See story at: Yomiuri Shimbun Article

Nakamura to Train with Dodgers

See story at: Associated Press Article

New Fukuoka Dome Owner to Pursue Other Distressed Assets in Japan

See story at: Forbes Article

Is Maels Rodriguez a Risky Proposition?

See story at: USA Today Article

Replies: 1 Comment

The encyclopedia isn't available through Amazon Japan yet, though that's probably since the book isn't due out until May, I believe.

Jim Albright

Posted by Jim Albright @ 02/06/2004 10:19 AM EST

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