The Yomiuri Giants and Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters pulled off a four-player trade in the offseason and now those players are staring their past in the face.
Infielder Tomohiro Nioka and southpaw Masanori Hayashi got shipped to Hokkaido while the Fighters let go of closer Micheal Nakamura and outfielder Takahito Kudo.
Matched up against one another on baseball's biggest stage, they think they've learned the tricks of the trade.
"Yeah, of course it's weird because I played there and I feel like I made it in Japan playing with these guys and now I'm playing against them," said Nakamura, who had 102 saves in four seasons with the Fighters.
"But in baseball I've played on many different teams and I've faced my best friends before, it's not anything different than that. And when I step on that mound, I don't really have any friends."
Hayashi, who has been the most productive player in the deal with nine holds and a 3.32 ERA in 46 games, said he has the same mind-set.
"It's a new feeling and it's also strange--I know a lot of the guys over there. But in a game, they are the opponent so there is no thinking about friendships," Hayashi said.
As for his plan of attack, Hayashi said: "I want to go after them. They have a lot of good batters so it's important to keep the ball down. The dome is spacious, so I can't be afraid to challenge them, and I think if I do that I'll get good results."
Nioka, who figures to be used in pinch-hitting roles, said he isn't thinking about his past.
"I don't feel anything different at all. Besides, we can't worry about them. To win the Series, we need to focus on what we do. That will be the main thing.
"I'll just go out and do what I can when I have the opportunity."
Nakamura said he is looking forward to pitching at his former home.
"I've had a lot more success here," quipped Nakamura, who had no saves, a 6.18 ERA and five holds in 29 regular-season games with the Giants.
OUT WITH THE NUMBERS' GAME: Nippon Ham skipper Masataka Nashida said four interleague meetings and advanced scouting have given the Fighters an abundance of information on the Giants.
"We have more data than we know what to do with," Nashida joked ahead of Game 1.
"I could probably stay up all night looking at the numbers. The goal now is to win four games."
"We played them four times in interleague and our scouts have a lot of data on them. Even though some of the players and pitchers are different from the last time we saw them, we have all we need to know."