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Eagles finally at home

by Jim Allen (Apr 29, 2011)

The Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles are home and they mean business. "This is our third Opening Day," manager Senichi Hoshino said as his team practiced on Thursday at Kleenex Stadium Miyagi.

Masahiro Tanaka will start for the Eagles against the Orix Buffaloes' Park Chan-ho.

"I expect to hear our bats ringing tomorrow," Hoshino said. "The sounds they've been making recently haven't been much. That's going to change. We're going to send a message.

"I want to win a one-sided game. Although our opponents won't make it easy for us. I want to give the fans something to shout about."

Today's game, which is already sold out, will be the first in Sendai since the March 11 earthquake pushed back the start of the season by 2-1/2 weeks.

The Eagles opened their season on the road in Chiba, and played their first two "home" series at Koshien Stadium and in Kobe.

"It's really something that so many people are going to come and see us in these difficult circumstances," catcher Motohiro Shima said.

Although some cracks remain here and there at the Eagles' ballpark, it is ready for action after repairs began on March 22.

"It's really a pleasure to be home and feel we can play ball like usual," Shima said.

"It took a huge effort by a lot of people for us to be able to play here, and I want to carry that feeling of gratitude with me onto the field."

During practice, the stadium was repeatedly rocked by ear-splitting test warnings on the public address system.

"I hope I won't hear any more of those," Shima said, although the ballpark was jolted by a tremor an hour after the players had left the ground.


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