As I woke up this morning I was greeted by an unfamiliar face – the sun! It didn’t last all day of course but it was there, peeking through, and most of the day, too. That made it feel like, well, spring. What better time for some baseball?
Because I am not real bright sometimes I forgot to put on the sunscreen so even though it was mostly cloudy after this morning I find myself with a nice warm red face. Or maybe it’s not sunburn, maybe it’s excitement from getting to meet some of my favorite players?
First things first – I decided to make separate photo and video posts when I return to Chiba rather than muck about with some kluge method of posting now. I have included a few pictures so far but they are just from my crappy phone camera (and yes, I am banging out these blog posts from my phone – this is what happens when you get baseball fever!)
I spent the morning watching the pitchers, first with the entire staff performing defensive drills and then some pitchers simulating game conditions for 50-100 pitches. It was interesting to see that the pitchers were still quite loose and seeming to have fun while working hard. The simulated game conditions drills were much more intense as the pitchers would work on certain pitches with a catcher and an actual umpire calling balls and strikes.
I spent a lot of time watching Yabuta, our ex-reliever now returned from the major leagues. He was throwing an interesting array of pitches from a fastball with movement to a big, slow breaker that was almost like Komiyama’s shake ball. Practicing with him were Kobayashi, new ex-Orix reliever Kawagoe, Hattori, and Kodai Matsumoto. Hattori was also fascinating to watch as he really mixed up his timing as he went through his pitches.
The pitchers swapped out as they finished their set practice, so in came Naruse (our opening day starter? Seems logical), Ohtani, and Kimura. Kimura is a bit odd up close – he looks as young if not younger than Karakawa (but he’s over 4 years older) and is very smooth when he throws, though he’s like a stringbean. I didn’t get to any ni-gun games last year so I didn’t get a chance to see him, really.
There was another intra-squad scrimmage today as well, so I wandered over to get a good seat as I was sure it’d be nearly full again, especially with the nice weather. On the way I stopped by the Ishigaki26 booth. Ishigaki26 is the Ryuku islands fan club (i’ll put a link to their home page when I return) and the fan club president, the very friendly Fumihiro Oshiro, was working the booth. We chatted a while about the state of he team and the upcoming season, snapped a few photos together, and I walked away with some nice Ishigaki26 t-shirts for the memories.
The lineup today was much the same as yesterday, though the white team switched to black and vice versa. For some reason the team in away blacks was referred to as the red team, but whatever, they were wearing black so they’re the black team to me.
For the black team ex-BayStar starter Nasuno (acquired in the Shimizu trade-cum-salary dump) took the hill for the first 3 innings. His opponent was local hero Yuta Ohmine (I need to make the distinction between the Ohmines as his brother is a new team member, though Shota is in ni-gun camp).
I multitasked taking pictures, keeping score, and chatting with my neighbors (more or less the usual suspects) while enjoying the game – perhaps all suffered by the disjointed effort. Anyway young (Yuta) Ohmine got positively lit up for his troubles today, much like Matsumoto yesterday. I scored it as 6ER, 6 hits, 1 hbp (if you can believe it, on Imae), 1 walk and 2 Ks. Not his best work, obviously. The black team had a 6-0 lead midway through the 2nd and never looked back. Most of those 6 runs came off a 3 run triple (possibly an error on Minami in right, but the wind was blowing so I’ll call it a hit) and two separate RBIs by Ohmatsu, both on sacrifices.
Nasuno got the job done quite well. He gave up 1ER on 1 hit and 2 walks in 3 innings of work. Itoh pitched the next two for the black team and was pretty classical Itoh – 3 hits, 2 Ks and a balk, but no runs. New import Bryan Corey went the next 2 in perfect fashion. It was the first game action I’ve seen of Corey so far and he was quite impressive. The ball was popping into Sato’s glove and Corey looked downright intimidating when throwing heat – proof in the upcoming picture posts. My guy Uchi finished up the last two for the black squad, giving up two hits hut no runs.
Ogino picked up where Ohmine left off – unfortunately that’s in terms of effectiveness, too, as he got beat up for another two runs in 2 innings of work and looked really rough doing it. Can the April 2009 Ogino please come back to the pen?
Ueno took the next two innings and shut the black team down, and our (possible) new reliever in for a tryout, Tejeda, took the hill again for the last two innings and was sneakily effective, pitching around batters and getting many outs. He ended up giving up only 2 baserunners in 2IP.
One odd thing I noticed about Tejeda’s mechanics – he went from a 3/4 arm slot and threw across his body for much of the 8th but came straight over the top for most (if not all) the 9th. I don’t recall seeing too often a pitcher change his arm slot that radically through the cours of an appearance. Picture evidence to come in the picture posts…
Some other player notes:
-Imaoka hasn’t gotten anything going with the bat so far as I’ve seen but he’s played a very nice defensive hot corner.
-Kim Taekyun has done basically nothing in the time Ive seen him. He looks out of shape, so I hope there is enough time in this preseason for him to get into shape and get his form correct.
-Nemoto made one hell of a great diving snag at second to steal a hit.
-Muniz is such a raw talent, but he’s definitely a talent. He muffed a few balls in right yesterday but made one amazing throw to nail Takehara at he plate today by a good 6 steps. He threw that ball on a rope. He swings like a Vlad Guerrero type at the plate but when he connects it goes far.
There’s much more to say, but for both of you who have made it this far’s sake I’ll put it in another post.