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JAPAN SERIES NOTEBOOK: Back into the field

by Jim Allen and John E. Gibson (Nov 4, 2009)

Alex Ramirez was happy to be back in Tokyo, even if it meant having to go back to left field after being the Yomiuri Giants designated hitter in the first two Japan Series games against Nippon Ham in Sapporo.

"If I could DH for 144 games a year, I would be happy with that," he said prior to Game 3 at Tokyo Dome. "I like it. I watch video, stay loose. I have lots of things to do. It means I don't have to worry about defense."

Coming home, however, means playing the field.

"It's OK," he said of needing to bring his glove. "I'm going to make some diving catches and throw some guys out. I want to win a Golden Glove. Please vote for me."

Ramirez couldn't recall the last diving catch he made, although he did throw two runners out this season.

Change of pace: The Fighters gambled with ace Yu Darvish on Sunday, hoping his enthusiasm and heart would overcome the lack of velocity caused by lower back stiffness.

Two days after he beat the Giants in Game 2, Darvish was feeling no ill effects from his first start in over a month.

"He's stiff, about usual for two days after," said pitching coach Masato Yoshii. "OK, not quite like usual. More like he'd be [after throwing] in spring training."

Wild at heart: The walk-off grand slam Nippon Ham's Terrmel Sledge blasted during the Pacific League Climax Series got the Fighters and the second-year player going.

But his sideways trip around the bases--accentuated with seemingly uncontrollable chest-pounding--made it one of the indelible images of this postseason.

"I didn't even realize I was doing it until I saw the video," said Sledge, who hit his third postseason long ball in Game 1 of the Japan Series. "So I can't even explain it. I didn't hold anything back and that's what came out."


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