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02/12/2004 Archived Entry: "Japanese Baseball News: Irabu Strikes Woman; Kinkade Hammers Carp"

Drunken Irabu Punches Woman; Hanshin Apologizes

According to Chunichi Sports, Hanshin Tigers righthander Hideki Irabu, while bar hopping Monday, suddenly punched a woman out in front of an establishment in Ishikawa, Okinawa Prefecture. There is no indication that it was provoked.

Fortunately for the pudgy star crossed hurler, the woman, whom he had never met before, refused to press charges. If she had, that may have been the end of Irabu's career. Instead, she asked for an apology. However, Irabu gave a different description of the incident to team officials, which lead them to believe that an apology wasn't necessary. Upon hearing this, the woman went to Chunichi Sports, who wrote it up. The team then issued a written apology. They also fined Irabu $2900 and reprimanded him.

"I don't want to make a big deal of this," said the unnamed woman. "I don't want any money, either," she told reporters, describing her feelings as a bad incident now being behind her.

Kinkade Homers in First Japan At Bat

The Hanshin Tigers faced off against the Hiroshima Carp Wednesday in a practice game before a nice turnout of 20,000 and it was all Mike Kinkade. Opening the game batting and playing third, the former Dodgers came up in the first inning with two men on and Carp pitcher Takaya Kawauchi left a 1-1 85mph fastball right in his wheelhouse, Kinkade torching it on a low line some 425 feet away into the leftcenterfield dirt seats at Murano Stadium in Ginoza, Okinawa.

Then in the second with a man in scoring position, Kinkade pulled his hands in and inside outted a fastball that was down and on the innner half of the plate sharply into the rightfiedl corner for an RBI double. He later made a fine barehanded play of a ground ball off the bat of Carp third baseman Kenta Kurihara. He handled all five defensive chances flawlessly.

"He'a going to be a real pain, isn't he?" remarked a scout for Yomiuri who was on hand to take it in. "When I saw him in batting practice, I thought he was a dead pull hitter, but he can go to the rightside pretty well."

A Chunichi Dragons scout noted, "he just goes with the pitch and showed good bat control. When he gets into a game, his timing seems to get better. He could be the second coming of [former Yakult third baseman Bob] Horner."

A scout from the Swallows indicated that he would like to see how Kinkade handles breaking pitches, but he didn't get to see that today. A Hiroshima scout said the next time they face Kinkade, they might try to pound him up and in.

For Kawauchi, though, Hiroshima skipper Koji Yamamoto was visibly upset, as the moundsman was tagged for three homers (the other two were by outfielder Ikuro Katsuragi and 20 year old rookie Kodai Sakurai) I and six earned runs in three innings to help Hanshin cakewalk to the victory. "He's making the same mistakes he made last year. This was just too horrible for words."

The Hiroshima attack was paced by rookie infielder Yoshinori Ogata, who went 3-5 with two doubles.

Number one draft choice Takashi Toritani sat this one out due to his finger injury. He will, though, play in a game against Nippon Ham on the 14th. His rival for the starting shortstop job, Atsushi Fujimoto, had an infield hit in five at bats.

Team Reports

Chunichi Commissioner Yasuchika Negoro visited the Dragons' spring camp in Miyakojima and got into a long discussion with manager Hiromitsu Ochiai about abolishing the 70 man roster limit and revising the NPB common agreement. Negoro said he would talk about it with people at his office and get back to him.....According to Chunichi Sports, the Dragons are looking to patent the phrase "ore-ryuu (doing it my way)" and are preparing to sell goods with it imprinted on them. This is interesting on two fronts: one, it shows that maybe the Japanese leagues are finally beginning to get a shadow of a clue in how to market themselves. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it tends, with apologies to Robert Whiting, to go against the "you gotta wa" mentality that had tends to pervade both Japanese society and its ballteams. Fuji-TV used the phrase in the past for a segment that featured Ochiai, but this will be the first time it was featured on merchandise....Thursday's workout featured an interesting development, though it may have been done more for publicity purposes than anything else. Dragons dormitory manager Teru Donoue, a former pitcher with the club, took the hill and threw 71 pitches to his son Takehiro, an Aiko Meiden High alumnus who was drafted by the Nagoya contingent this past November. The younger Donoue, who reportedly has some pop, took his dad deep just once.

Yomiuri 10,000 fans ventured out to Sun Marine Stadium Wednesday to watch the kyojin workout. Both third baseman Hiroki Kokubo and first baseman Kazuhiro Kiyohara looked very good as they come back from the leg injuries that hampered their 2003 campaigns....A reporter asked Kokubo if he liked to engage in bench jockeying. The slugger said that when he was at Daiei, backup catchers Koji Bonishi, Masanori Taguchi and outfielder Noriyoshi Omichi were so good at it that it wasn't necessary for him to say anything....Leftfielder Tuffy Rhodes went yard 12 times in 63 swings and said that he did a little better than his Tuesday performance. He is also attemtping to work off ten extra pounds he put on during the offseason....Lefthander Masanori Hayashi threw batting practice Wednesday, sawing off a couple of bats during the 76 pitch session and getting good action on his cutter....Roberto Petagine is still rehabbing his knee. A trainer revealed that it's gradually getting better and he anticipates that he will be able to increase his workload soon....Manager Tsuneo Horiuchi was in the minor league camp and liked what he saw from the arms there, issuing particular praise for number eight draftee Minami. "His fastball looks heavy and he gets good rotation on his slider"....Masumi Kuwata threw 42 pitches in his bullpen workout Wednesday, most of them breaking balls.

Yakult Leftfielder Alex Ramirez, who likes doing impressions of Japanese celebrities, says that when he came back to Japan this year, he didn't notice them doing anything different and that disappointed him. I guess that means he will have to work harder thinking up ways to lampoon them to keep everybody in the locker room laughing. Wednesday, Ramirez was lining ablls all over the field, but only two transgressed the fences. This season, he is focusing on keeping his weight back better and going the opposite way more....Pitcher Shohei Tachiyama has hurt a right elbow ligament and is unlikely to be ready for Opening Day. He won't even be able to throw for at least a month.

Yokohama Kazuhiro Sasaki is scheduled to do his first bullpen session for the Stars Friday. He hurt his foot during calisthenics and had to have it taped up, but he was able to finish the practice routine except for the interval training....Pitcher Eddie Gaillard, it appears, may remain with the team after all, according to Sankei Sports, but they say that in the face of the fact that the team will not offer him a mulit-year contract. Gaillard will consult with his agent on his options.

Daiei Hector Mercado threw batting practice Wednesday in a 30 pitch workout and showed good life on his pitches. Manager Sadaharu Oh said that Mercado will indeed be given a shot at closing....Hayato Terahar also tossed some bp and was nowhere near as impressive as Mercado was, but he was glad to face some live hitting anyway. He then went to the bullpen and delivered another 56 pitches....First baseman Nobuhiko Matsunaka had a 40 minute special hitting workout, launching 14 homers in 128 swings....Daiei had a big fan turnout on Sunday, about 33,000, according to Sankei Sports....Tuesday, second baseman Tadahito Iguchi had his longball stroke on display, as he cranked 37 homers in 117 swings. "However far the ball goes, that's fine. I'm just concentrating on hitting the ball hard," the all star infielder averred to reporters....Panamanian slugger Julio Zuleta did lots of running the offseason and is 22 pounds lighter for it. "His body is looking buff and he's swinging swing the bat reall good!" an approving Sadaharu Oh evaluated. One of Zuleta's rockets completely left the ballpark, awing the 5500 that were in the stands....A spokesman for Colony Capital, a turnaround firm that bought Fukuoka Dome, said that the firm has no intention of putting the ballpark's naing rights up for bid.

Kintetsu Third baseman Norihiro Nakamura bleted 15 homers in 115 swings in batting practice at the team's camp in Hinata Wednesday with Japanese national baseball team manager Shigeo Nagashima and 1500 fans looking on. Nakamura broke a blister during the session and couldn't really swing very freely for the rest of his time at bat. After the burly Osakan finished, he had lunch and then signed autographs. He will leave on Valentine's Day for the Dodgers camp in Vero Beach, Florida.

Lotte Lotte ace Tomohiro Kuroki ascended the hill for batting practice Wednesday and was excellent in his 76 pitch stint despite saying after ward that he was opening up his shoulder too soon during his delivery. "He's always hard on himself," commented manager Bobby Valentine....First baseman Seung-yeop Lee put on a nice power display, slugging 19 homers in 76 swings. "I'm getting there," the Asian homer king said....Stats analyst Paul Pupo has been taking some lessons in basic Japanese, according to Sankei Sports. "Seven is nana, right? Nana, nana, o banana!" Pupo joked.

Nippon Ham A record crowd of 4,000 braved an eight mile long traffic jam Wednesday to watch the team play an intrasquad game at Nago Stadium in Nago, Okinawa. After it was over, centerfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo held an autograph session at a nearby practice field, signing for around 2000 people. Shinjo was hit on the foot by a pitch in the game, lined out to third, and popped up to third in the game. Reliever Kiyoshi Sasaki struckout five in two innings and infielders Kokichi Akune and Takaya Hayashi both homered to highlight the contest....In an intra squad game Tuesday, Shinjo made a lunging highlight catch of a first inning drive deep to rightcenter off of the bat of shortstop Makoto Kaneko, earning an ovation from the 3500 spectators. At bat, he bounced into a double play, walked and wacked a shot off the glove of the opposing third baseman for a hit....Outfielder Tomochika Tsuboi sat the game out due to discomfort in his shoulder. He was later given an MRI and was diagnosed with an inflammed tendon.

Orix Shortstop Mitsutaka Goto had a special 300 swing hitting session Wednesday....Former Hankyu great Atsushi Nagaike will serve as a special hitting instructor. He will begin his temporary assignment on Thursday.

Miscellaneous Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui left Japan Wednesday for the states, waving goodbye to fans who were at the airport as he entered the boarding area....Former Lotte infielder Rick Short has been invited to spring training by Kansas City.

Matsui Has Fun with Reyes

See story at: Palm Beach Post Article

See related story at: New York Times Article

Is Japanese High School Baseball's Feudal Era Ending?

See story at: Yomiuri Shimbun Article

MLB Should Unilaterally Create Baseball World Cup

See story at: International Herald Tribune Article

Cultures Blend in Clubhouse

See story at: Article

Lion King Lee a Hit in Japan

See story at: Chosun Ilbo Article

Song Mr. Average in KBO

See story at: Dong-A Ilbo Article

Taiwan, China in Baseball Exchange

See story at: Associated Press Article

Tsao Shines in Taipei

See story at: Article

Australia Hopes for Olympic Medal

See story at: Bathurst Western Advocate Article

Today's Photos

Mike Kinkade Brings Out the Big Hammer

Another View of Kinkade's Homer Swing

Kinkade Tries to Cut Off Extra Base Bid at the Pass

Replies: 3 comments

here is a link to a mets fan page with photos of matsui at mets camp.

Posted by peter dunetz @ 02/12/2004 02:47 PM EST

here is a link to a mets fan page with photos of matsui at mets camp.

Posted by peter dunetz @ 02/12/2004 02:47 PM EST

here is a link to a mets fan page with phots of matsui at mets camp.

Posted by peter dunetz @ 02/12/2004 02:47 PM EST

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