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PL owners pledge to battle on: League aims to complete full schedule despite earthquake damage, powe

by Jim Allen (Mar 22, 2011)

The Pacific League renewed its vow on Monday to overcome a mountain of obstacles and bring a full slate of baseball to the people of Japan.

"Playing a 144-game schedule in these extreme and unusual circumstances will not be easy," Orix Buffaloes owner Yoshihiko Miyauchi said after an extraordinary PL owners meeting.

"Our ability to play night games and doubleheaders in the Kanto region will be limited due to power cuts, but we are determined to overcome and to achieve our goal.

"The best thing we can do is to operate our sport in as normal a fashion as we can."

Following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that struck the Tohoku region, two PL stadiums are not usable and the government has asked baseball not to play night games in the Kanto and Tohoku regions until the current electricity shortage has eased.

In response to Friday's request from the Education, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, the Central League on Sunday pledged to abandon night games in the Kanto region prior to April 5 and play no extra innings. The PL plans to hold no night games in the region through the end of April, but may extend the ban if necessary.

PL teams will not begin a new extra inning 3-1/2 hours after the start of a game.

Both leagues have pledged to do their utmost to save energy.

"The rules are not hard and fast about no night games," said Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles owner Toru Shimada, who chaired the meeting. "A lot depends on the season.

"During the summer, the peak period for electricity consumption is in the afternoon. At that time, [night games] might be preferable. It all depends on the circumstances at the time. We will follow government instructions."

Shimada said completing the planned number of games was something the PL cannot manage on its own.

"How can we avoid altering the number of games we play?" Shimada said. "That's a huge challenge and something we have to take on in cooperation with the players association and the CL."

The players association has long refused to play doubleheaders. However, the players who have urged a later start to the season, may be in no position to block the twin bills needed to complete 144 games.

The extra-inning rules to be adopted in interleague play will need to be worked out between the leagues.

Shimada said his team, based in disaster-stricken Sendai, was eying an April 29 homecoming to Nippon Seishi Kleenex Stadium Miyagi.

"We are working toward the assumption that it will be ready at that time," Shimada said.

"How the park looks is of no concern. What is of utmost importance is the safety of the fans."

If things go as anticipated, the Eagles will have two three-game home series at alternate venues between the time the PL begins play on April 12 and the time they are able to return to Sendai. During that period, teams from both leagues have offered Rakuten the use of their facilities.

"We have to use stadiums that are available, we can't just shove aside amateur teams scheduled to play at a park and take over because we are pros," Shimada said.

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Kubo solid for Tigers

Yasuo Kubo allowed four hits but no runs over six innings on Monday as the Hanshin Tigers blasted the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 12-3 at Sapporo Dome.

Winter acquisition Ryota Arai also hit a three-run homer for Hanshin.

In Osaka, Tokyo Yakult Swallows right-hander Yoshinori Sato worked four innings and five teammates chipped in to complete a 1-0 shutout victory over the Orix Buffaloes.

In Hiroshima, Fukuoka SoftBank's Alex Cabrera homered for the second straight day as the Hawks played to a 3-3 tie with the Carp.


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