NPB Bullet Points: Iwakuma Confirms Plans
A few notes on the meja chosen (メジャー挑戦, “challenging the majors”) situations for some of NPB’s top players.
- Hisashi Iwakuma has confirmed his widely-anticipated plans to move to the Majors. He was quoted in Sponichi as saying, “For several years, I’ve been thinking that I want to play in the Majors. In order to realize that dream, I’m going to exercise international free agency after the conclusion of the Japan Series.” Iwakuma will spend two weeks in November training in Arizona.
- Norichika Aoki’s name as re-emerged in the posting rumor mill, courtesy of Nikkan Sports. I had kind of written him off as an MLB prospect, partly because Yakult has seemed so unwilling to post him, but mostly because his numbers fell off so badly this year (.292/.358/.360 this year, after .358/.435/.509 last season). Aoki refused to comment on the situation for Sponichi, saying “the season isn’t over year, I’m only focusing on the games.” Yakult team president Tsuyoshi Kinugasa, on the other hand, has been chatty about: “If he asks for some time, we’ll give him time, but we haven’t had that talk yet. The general idea is to support talented players who what to challenge the world, but as the president my first mission is a Yakult championship. I can’t support the general perception.”
- Yu Darvish’s season ended with Nippon Ham’s first round playoff loss, but that hasn’t changed anything. Darvish reiterated his position on the Majors in the Sankei Shimbun: “I wrote this on my blog, but I haven’t decided on a direction so I don’t have any comment.” Read my notes on Darvish’s last appearance of 2011 here.