Archive > 21 October 2009

East Meets West

» 21 October 2009 » In international baseball, nichibei, npb » 1 Comment

Manager Katsuya Nomura finally accepted an apology from Todd Linden. Linden was taken off the Golden Eagles’ roster for the first round of the Climax Series versus the Softbank Hawks for criticizing the coaching staff over being benched in a regular season game. At first, the situation seemed to be unresolvable as Nomura went to the extreme as telling Linden to pack his bags and go back to the States through the media.

The Golden Eagles were able to advance even without the service of the .292 hitter Linden. However both sides felt a reconciliation would benefit the team in order to beat the Fighters. Linden showed the respect to the coaching staff after the suspension was in order. Linden continued to practice at the ni-gun facility and attempted to apologize for his comments.

The situation turned the corner when Linden came to apologize with a suit and tie in front of Nomura. He also showed respect to the media and reflected on his comments. Linden’s behavior after the incident changed Nomura’s mind and the decision of adding him to the second rounds roster has been made.

Respecting the game of baseball and the coaching staff is a must in the Japanese baseball world and criticizing that can jeopardizeyour position as a player. The adjustments that Japanese players needs to make in the MLB are often publicized, but the same goes for foreign players attempting to make a name for themselves in Japan. It’s not just about the strikeouts and home runs in Japanese baseball, but how much you play the game with honor that will determine the success of a player. Linden learned the lesson in a hard way, but hopefully both sides will enjoy a happy ending at seasons end.

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Kikuchi to Announce Intentions Oct 24?

» 21 October 2009 » In mlb prospects, npb draft » 2 Comments

The Yusei Kikuchi watch marches on. Multiple sources out of Japan are saying that the soonest we’ll see a decision from the promising lefty is Oct 24 JST, and  Sanspo quoted Hanamaki Higaashi baseball director Hiroyuki Sasuga as saying “he’s having discussions with his parents in the next few days, and we’ll hold a press conference when he’s made a final decision on how to proceed.” According to Nikkan Sports, Kikuchi has a self-imposed deadline of the 26th.

Daily Sports is reporting that many people around him are advising him to stay in Japan, and speculates that he’ll start his pro career in NPB. The fat lady is still warming up though.

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2009 Draft: What’s in a Name?

» 21 October 2009 » In npb draft » 4 Comments

My draft coverage outside of Yusei Kikuchi has been pretty weak this year, but I have a week to catch up. I’ll start by pointing out how awesome Kazuhito Futagami’s and Masato Kiyashiki’s names are in Japanese.

二神一人 (Futagami Kazuhiro):  “two gods, one person”

鬼屋敷正人 (Kiyashiki Masato):  “demon estate, correct person”

Futagami is a top college pitcher and should be drafted in the first round after the Kikuchi fallout takes place. Kiyashiki is a high school catcher who appears on some teams’ high pick list, and could sneak in to the first round as well.

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Johjima Opts out

» 21 October 2009 » In international baseball, nichibei » Comments Off

As previously reported in Japanese, Kenji Johjima has decided to opt out of the final two years of his contract with the Seattle Mariners. Johjima was the first Japanese catcher in the big leagues, playing in total of 462 games in the span of four seasons.

His NPB power bat did not translate well for him in the big leagues and it became a struggle to earn regular playing time last season with the Mariners, as he appeared in only 71 games. A pair of injuries limited his playing time as well.

Earlier this week, there was speculation that an opt out move was in the works, citing Johjima’s cancelled off-season Mariners PR work. Johjima is known to be quoted in saying, “I do not feel strongly to live and die in the majors for the rest of my career. I would like to take back to Japan what I learned from the States, and want to go back while I can still contribute to a team.”

There have been reports already that the Hanshin Tigers are interested and his former team, Softbank Hawks, should be another possibility. Johjima should still be one of the best catchers in Japan, once landing with a team and Japanese fans should be happy to get him back.

Now the question is when will we see another Japanese catcher be to challenge for an opportunity in the majors, and who will it be? Motonobu Tanishige and Ryoji Aikawa both failed to garner offers in their attempts to move over as free agents.

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