Hope springs eternal at the start of every season. Here are some spring training notes, mostly on guys who are trying to make their teams.
(All of the below items point to Japanese-language articles)
- Ken Kadokura is testing a two-seam fastball and a sinker, neither of which he threw in Japan. "The movement on my breaking pitches is bigger than it was in Japan," said Kadokura, "I think I can use these".
- Junichi Tazawa threw 51 pitches to Jason Varitek. "I was nervous the whole time," Tazawa said with a smile. "I was concerned that I was stretching my arm more than usual,"
- Kei Igawa threw 15 pitches to Hideki Matsui. Matsui hit eight, and took seven. "I'm glad I didn't hit him," Igawa said with big laughter. Last year, Igawa plunked a minor leaguer in batting practices.
- Ken Takahashi got a decent review from Blue Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg: "My first look at him was good. We have two open rotation spots. He has enough of a chance to get one. I hope he makes the team."
- Marc Kroon threw 70 pitches in a bullpen session on the 19th and will appear in an inner-squad game on the 23rd. He's working on a two-seamer and a shuuto. "first I'm getting back into game shape. I want to get a feel for all my pitches," he said.
- On his WBC off day, Ichiro travelled 1200km back to Kobe to take batting practice at Skymark Stadium.
- Rakuten manager Katsuya Nomura has come up with an innovative approach to batting practice: tape a picture of Yu Darvish to the pitching machine. Did it work? Nomura looks happy with the results.