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John E. Gibson

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Abe eyes limited return

by John E. Gibson (Oct 31, 2008)

Yomiuri Giants All-Star catcher Shinnosuke Abe hopes to catch on through the fine art of hitting.

The backstop, who injured his right shoulder in Yomiuri's Oct. 10 Central League title-clincher, will likely be included on the Japan Series roster to be announced today.

The Giants open the Fall Classic on Saturday against the Pacific League-winning Saitama Seibu Lions at Tokyo Dome, and Abe--the team captain--drove the ball well at times in the batting cage during a workout at the dome on Thursday.

Giants cleanup man Alex Ramirez said the players are counting on Abe to be able to return, even if he won't be behind the plate.

"I think he's going to be a pinch-hitter or maybe be the DH against the Lions. It's going to help the lineup a lot--it'll look a lot better with him in there," Ramirez said.

"It means a lot to have him. He's a left-handed hitter--he has a lot of power. We're looking forward to him being in the lineup."

The two-time defending CL champion Giants wanted to place Abe on the roster in the second stage of the CL Climax Series against the Chunichi Dragons, but opted to the reserve the spot for a healthy player instead. The 29-year-old was forced to watch from the sidelines.

Abe worked out in the batting cage on Sunday--when the rest of the team was off--and has been swinging since Tuesday when the Giants began practice for the Series.

Abe, who was hurt diving back to second base at Jingu Stadium and has experienced soreness and inflammation, hit .271 with 24 home runs and 67 RBIs in 125 regular-season games.


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