We are just over a week from Spring Training here in Japan! Hard to believe, but baseball is just around the corner! Let’s look at basic schedules and locations for all 12 teams’ camps, and then move on to the topic of the fortnight: baseball is breaking down international barriers…
Orix Buffaloes (Miyazaki City, February 1-March 2)*
* Nippon Series Champions’ Parade on January 31!
Saitama Seibu Lions (Nichinan City, February 6-23)
Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks (Miyazaki City, February 1-March 2)
Yomiuri Giants (Miyazaki City, February 1-14)
Hiroshima Toyo Carp (Nichinan City, February 1-15)
Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (Nago City, February 1-27)
Hanshin Tigers (Ginoza Village, February 1-27)
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (Kin Town, February 1-19)
Chunichi Dragons (Chatan Town, February 1-27)
Hiroshima Toyo Carp (Okinawa City, February 17-28
Yokohama DeNA Baystars (Ginowan City, February 1-26)
Tokyo Yakult Swallows (Urasoe City, February 1-27)
Yomiuri Giants (Naha City, February 16-March 5)
Chiba Lotte Marines (Ishigaki City, February 1-26)
The Japanese baseball team roster has been announced for the World Baseball Classic in March. Here is how it breaks down.
Pitchers; Yu Darvish (Padres), Shohei Ohtani (Angels), Shota Imanaga（Baystars）, Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Buffaloes), Shosei Togo (Giants), Atsuki Yuasa (Tigers), Roki Sasaki (Marines), Taisei (Giants), Ryoji Kuribayashi (Carp), Yuki Matsui (Eagles), Hiromi Itoh (Fighters), Hiroya Miyagi (Buffaloes), Yuki Udagawa (Buffaloes), Keiji Takahashi (Swallows), Hiroto Takahashi (Dragons)
Catchers: Takuya Kai (Hawks), Yuhei Nakamura (Swallows), Takumi Ohshiro (Giants)
Infielders: Sosuke Genda (Lions), Shugo Maki (Baystars), Munetaka Murakami (Swallows), Tetsuto Yamada (Swallows), Ukyo Shuto (Hawks), Hotaka Yamakawa (Lions), Takumu Nakano (Tigers), Kazuma Okamoto (Giants)
Outfielders: S. Suzuki (Cubs), Lars Nootbar (Cardinals), Kensuke Kondoh (Hawks), Masataka Yoshida (Red Sox)
It should be noted that Nootbar (America) is the lone player on the roster who was born outside of Japan. He is not, however, the only player with mixed roots. Darvish is half-Iranian and Udagawa is half-Filipino.
Also making history as non-Japanese players being bestowed a huge honor are Randy Bass and Alex Ramirez. These two former greats were elected into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame for their storied careers. Read our article here for more on both players, plus composer Yuji Koseki, who also entered the Hall.
Finally, Tigers’ right-handed flamethrower Shintaro Fujinami was signed to a deal by the Oakland Athletics. It is a one-year deal worth a reported $3.25 million, which makes sense for both sides. In a bit of a pleasant surprise, Fujinami delivered a splendid English speech at his opening press conference, even impressing his agent, Scott Boras.
Next time we talk, baseball workouts will be in full swing down south! Hang in there, folks! Baseball is just a few more cold winter nights away!