I imagine this place is a tropical paradise. It’s got lovely blue water, tropical plants and flowers growing on quiet lanes, and best of all. – Lotte spring camp. The rain has gone away today but if anything it’s colder – it feels like an April evening game more than a lovely spring. Before you say “Hey, April is spring!” I’d like to invite you to feel what a mid-April night is like in Makuhari. Warm, it ain’t.
I’ve been taking tons of photos as usual but my hotel has no Internet so I can’t post any photos or videos until I am back in Chiba. That pains me but I’ll fix it with a few hundred MB of photos next week. I think I am joking about that one!
It’s much more crowded today, and I see many familiar faces among the fans visiting. I just ran into someone I didn’t know but who knew me. She told her friend “This guy is at all the games, he’s always cheering really loudly!”
A scrimmage is about to start. Real baseball!
Kobayashi gets the start for the white team and Hattori for the black. It’s my first look at Hattori – he gets many weak infield pops off his oddly slow delivery. He’s really keeping Imaoka busy at third so far.
The game stays scoreless until the fourth when (La la la) Takehara cranks a solo shot to center right for the black team. The white team ties it up with a run in the 5th as (I believe, I forgot to write it down) Imae singled in Satozaki.
The tiny stadium at Ishigaki Chuo Undo Koen was pretty well filled all game as the fans – most of them local, I presume but also some familiar faces from Chiba Marine – enjoyed cheering good plays from both sides of the scrimmage. It seemed to me that there was much cheering for Imaoka, perhaps because of his reputation a few years ago. In the middle of the game some special needs fans sat right behind me and cheered loudly. I giggled with a grandmother and her young grandson as they tried to remember Korean to cheer Taekyun. A blind teenage girl had her family describe to her what was going on – she was an Imaoka fan, too, as she cheered him loudly. A pleasant game, really.
In the later innings the bats really took over. An ex-major league reliever, Michael Tejeda (more on him in a moment), has been in camp this weekend for a tryout. He was brought in in the 8th for the white team with only a practice jersey. He went right at Tsuyoshi and Tsuyoshi almost took him out, knocking a double off the center field fence. Minami singled to score Tsuyoshi from second and Taekyun hit a first pitch single to right to score Minami.
In the white team bottom of the 8th Matsumoto Kodai took the hill for the black team. Iguchi hit the third HR of the game to right to make it 3-2. In the bottom of the 9th Matsumoto stayed and the white team got some BP in as Fukuura led off with a solo HR, Sato singled, Muniz doubled high off the right field fence (one thing I loved about watching this sort of scrimmage was the loosy-goosy attitude of the players. They looked like they were really having fun out there. As Muniz made his at bat the white team dugout really egged him on. Fukuura led with his yells of “Muniz! Bueno! Bueno!”. Iguchi was tagged out trying to steal and after Tsuyoshi tagged him out he popped him on the head with his glove as if to say “Baka”. Sato laughed as he loped to third after Muniz doubled him over, mostly because it looked like he might go for home when really he had a hard time making it to third in the first place. Good times.)
Where was I? Oh yeah, Muniz just missed out on an HR doubling right off the fence. Hayasaka scored Sato with a double and Heiuchi tripled in both runners. Imae doubled home Heiuchi and Iguchi homered for the last runs of the game, mercifully for Matsumoto, who gave up all that.
I have seen every ichi-gun player in action so far except Saburo and local hero Ohmine. New foreign import reliever Bill Murphy pitched two in relief today, showing some nice power. I also saw my first views of ex-BayStars pitcher Nasuno (he was pitching simulated innings with the other members of the pitching staff) and had a chance to chat for 30 seconds or so with Michael Tejeda. His second inning of work today was much stronger than the first as he was hitting corners with breaking pitches (couldn’t tell what kind from the side) with good vertical movement. He was getting the calls from the umps and the batters didn’t seem to like the calls, so I figure it was good movement in general. Anyway I asked if he was officially signed to the team yet and he said no, it was still a tryout but he hoped to be on the team. Friendly guy, I hope he can help us out.