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CL may heed request to delay start

by Jim Allen (Mar 20, 2011)

Pro baseball's Opening Day may yet be delayed.

Although the Central League's board of directors decided on Thursday to go ahead with the league's Opening Day on March 25 as scheduled, a request on Friday from the Ministry of Education and Science may alter that position.

The ministry asked Nippon Professional Baseball to refrain from playing night games in areas affected by power shortages caused by the March 11 Tohoku earthquake.

"The ministry asked us to refrain from night games, not to stop playing," commissioner Ryozo Kato said Saturday. "We have said we will follow instructions and orders imposed on us and not play until it is safe for players and fans.

"We are going to play baseball. Both the CL and PL are studying how to adjust to this request. I haven't heard back from them yet."

Two of the CL's openers are scheduled to be played in Tokyo: at Jingu Stadium and Tokyo Dome.

The Pacific League, which pushed back the start of its season until April 12, will be affected as well by the ministry's request. PL owners are scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss how to proceed.

Meanwhile, the Orix Buffaloes have said it would be premature for people to think the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles will easily be able to relocate their scheduled home games to Kobe.

Orix said Friday that Hotto Motto Field Kobe currently has a full slate of college, high school and amateur games that cannot easily be rescheduled.

The Hanshin Tigers and the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks have both offered their home parks as potential Rakuten home games until Sendai is ready for pro ball once more.

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No gags from Morimoto

YOKOSUKA, Kanagawa--Hichori Morimoto loves the spotlight and has been eager to get up in outlandish costumes to entertain fans.

But don't expect any vintage clowning from the Yokohama BayStars new outfielder just yet.

"I don't think it's the time for that," said Morimoto, who left the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters over the winter to sign with Japan's weakest club.

"For the time being, I'm going to concentrate on cheering people up through my play on the field."

Morimoto and a number of Yokohama's first-team regulars were in Yokosuka to get some Eastern League playing time after their scheduled preseason exhibition at Yokohama Stadium had been called off.

"The scale of this disaster is huge, beyond comprehension," he said. "It dwarfs what one person can do to help. But as ballplayers, we want to get out and start playing as soon as we can and give people courage.

"If it means playing all day games, that's OK with me."


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