Last season, the Chiba Lotte Marines rode the Pacific League's top offense to a playoff birth and a Cinderella Nippon Series win. This year, the Marines will return with largely the same lineup, though with one notable absence - Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who was posted to the Minnesota Twins. Lotte hasn't gone outside their organization to find a full-time replacement, so they'll open camp with a group of in-house options.
- Takashi Ogino – Based on media reports, second-year man Ogino making the swith from center field seems to be the preferred option pre-camp. And for good reason: as a rookie in 2010, Ogino impressed with the bat before his season ended very prematurely on May 21, and after his injury fellow rookie Ikuhiro Kiyota emerged in center field. Ogino has shown he can hit at the ichi-gun level, but how well he shakes of the injury rust and transitions to the infield will be open question marks this spring.
- Shunichi Nemoto - Spare a thought for Nemoto. In his only extended look at the ichi-gun level (314 ABs in 2008), he posted a strong .799 OPS, but was was immediately buried on the depth chart by the arrival of Tadahito Iguchi.
- Kei Hosoya - Lotte's third option is newly-minted 23 year-old Hosoya. Hosoya spent most of of 2010 at ni-gun, where he was competent at the plate with a .295/.359/.487 line, but lacking in the field, with a .944 fielding percentage and 15 errors in 58 games at short. I always take minor league stats with a grain of salt, but that fielding percentage is concerning
The one infield acquisition Lotte made was getting Takayuki Takaguchi from Nippon Ham, but as far as I can tell he looks like a utility guy. He, along with utility incumbents Keisuke Hayasaka and Hisao Horiuchi, could also see more playing time in Nishioka's absence.
It would be unrealistic to expect this group to replicate what Nishioka did in 2010, but then again you could say the same about Nishioka himself. It should be possible, however, for some combination of these players approach Nishioka's pre-2010 level of performance.