Monday, March 28, 2016

On the Farm: Chunichi Dragons v Softbank Hawks (March 25th, 26th & 27th)

We had three games over the weekend against the Softbank Hawks in Nagoya with a mixed bag of results.

Game 1 was a narrow 5-6 loss where Tetsuya Tani made a claim for first team duties after narrowly missing out on the opening day squad and Ryosuke Oguma showed his skills as starting pitcher.

In the mix for a start against the Carp?

Oguma had 5 full innings conceding 3 runs taking 5 strikes and giving away one walk. It was a
productive spell and as a result it seems he has been picked up by the first team for training in the lead-up to tomorrow's game against Hiroshima. With Jordan Norberto unable to play after being de-registered from the 1-gun squad to make way for Drew Naylor, it is plausible that Oguma could be the final starter in the rotation.

Junki Kishimoto showed more promise today as well striking out one and walking one in his 2 innings. Daisuke Sobue was on the unfortunate end of a fielding error as he gave up 3 runs against the four batters he faced. Takuya Mitsuma would restore some stability as he pitched out the rest of the inning for no loss with Mutoh finished up the 9th with 2 strikes and two hits


Nobumasa Fukuda was among the scorers again today as he drove one batter home, had a walk and struck out once in his 3 at-bats. Masahiko Morino recorded similar stats with two hits and one strike-out as DH. All plaudits however would go to Tetsuya Tani who slammed a 2-run homerun, a hit and a walk in his 3 at bats. Taiki Mitsumata and Ryosuke Tomonaga also contributed a hit each to help the Dragons get to their 4 runs.

Game 2 had far less to be excited about as Softbank steamrolled the Dragons 0-6.


What are "Yuu" looking at?
Occasional first team starter Shinji Iwata started this game and pitched 5 innings recording 3
strikeouts and giving up two runs. Yuta Mutoh would once again provide relief claiming 2 strikeouts in a single scoreless inning. Hitoki Iwase would continue making his way along the comeback trail by also pitching a scoreless inning, striking out two in the process. Junki Kishimoto and 2015 draftee, Yuu Sato would take the remaining innings with both giving up 2 runs a piece with Sato giving up a walk and taking a strikeout in the process.


Nothing to really write home about, but Masahiko Morino once again proved that he's above this level getting two hits from his 4 at plate appearances. Fukuda failed to bother the scorers apart from striking out once. Mitsumata stole a base! (Woohoo?!)

Game 3 was all we could hope for as draftee #1 Shinnosuke Ogasawara made his starting debut in the Western League and although a bit wobbly at times, helped set-up a Dragons win and leave the Hawks scoreless at 4-0. Development player, Hiroki Kondo would also impress with a 2-run dinger.


Starting out for the Dragons was the much talked about ex-Koshien ace, Shinnosuke Ogasawara who was Chunichi's first draft pick after the team missed out on Gifu Shoukou's Junpei Takahashi who went to the Hawks after a ballot. The young southpaw was a bit all over the place and served up 3 walks and 2 strikeouts in a relatively marathon 3 1/3 innings where he pitched 66 deliveries. Takuma Achira, who would be winning pitcher, would take up relief and restore some sanity where he pitched 2 2/3 innings with 1 strikeout and one walk. Mitsuma and Sobue would follow with an inning a piece with the former walking one. The 9th inning was made by Mutoh who struck out two and allowed 2 hits but kept things scoreless.


Morino did what he does best and milked a walk, hit an RBI and struck out once. Fukuda managed to steal a base but otherwise got a hit, a walk and struck out once. Tetsuya Tani had two hits in his three at bats and Hiroki Kondo, the outfielder, claimed a 2 run home run in the bottom of 2nd for the standout performance with the bat.

Overall, very mixed bag of results but it seems that Morino probably will be back in the first team at some stage this season and I feel that Fukuda and Tani are probably doing about enough at the moment to get extended runs on the roster.

In related news, Hitoki Iwase, Ryosuke Oguma and Yusuke Matsui were all called up for training with the first team today at the Nagoya Dome. I can see Oguma maybe starting game 3 against the Carp with no other real options available and maybe Matsui taking Ricardo Nanita's role in the squad. Iwase is apparently only in the squad to see how much progress he's making.

Other information, if you want to watch the 2-gun team, here is schedule of the games that will be broadcasted on the Dragons free Ustream channel. There are two games against Softbank on the 14th and 15th of April and another two games against Orix on May 16th and 17th. Other games are scheduled for broadcast from August.

Opening Round Game: 3 Chunichi 4-5 Hanshin, Viciedo homers yet again, Fukudome slays 3/27

In the final game of the weekend at the Kyocera Dome it was to be an interesting contest between the pitchers with Kyuji Fujikawa making his triumphant return to the mound since his ill-fated trip to the Majors, this time notably as a starter. Drew Naylor for the Dragons made his first appearance this year having put behind him a very solid pre-season. It was however to be Fujikawa who would come out the winner with a very active contribution from Chunichi old-boy, Kosuke Fukudome, who sent a runner home in the first and sent one into the stands in the third.

Line-up changes: Yamai -> Naylor, Sugiyama -> Katsura, Araki ->Hernandez; Jordan sent to the farm to allow Naylor to play. Will be eligible for selection again on the 7th of April with a view to entering the starting rotation.

Fujikawa would take to the mound to start the innings. The man who made his name as a closer for Hanshin showed good form to get rid of the Ohshima, Hernandez and Endo. Naylor however had a less assured start. After striking out Shun Takayama with an absolutely wicked curve ball, he proceeded to hit Shintaro Yokata with a pitch with only his 10th delivery of the day. Matt Hague's first appearance of the day saw him ground out at second but allow Yokota to move to second base. That then allowed for Kosuke Fukudome, who has been quiet the last couple of games, to step up and take control with a two base hit line-drive, sending Yokota home to make it 1-0 in the first. Naylor put himself in further trouble by allowing Mauro Gomez to get a two-base hit, allowing Fukudome to move to third. A walk to Hanshin captain, Takashi Toritani loaded the bases to create the first real tense moment of the game. Luckily for the Australian however, Tsuyoshi Nishioka could only manage a hit to second base where he was found short of his ground at 1st. 

Fujikawa would take his turn to hit someone with a pitch as he walked Viciedo to first in the Cuban's first at bat of the day. It wouldn't however affect anything as both Hirata and Fujii flied out with Takahashi ending the innings by grounding out.

The pain would continue for Naylor in the bottom of the second as Ryutaro Umeno hit through short-stop to get on base. Fujikawa would strike-out, but the rookie Shun Takayama had his revenge as he picked-up Naylor's curve ball and struck back with a three-base hit  to send Umeno home. Yokota would then send Takayama home but find himself stranded out. Matt Hague would finish the inning with a ground-out to Endo at short-stop. 3-0 

Chunichi would fail to muster a defence in the 3rd, and Kosuku Fukudome took advantage of an inconsistent Naylor by hitting an inside straight into the left-side stand to make it 4-0. 

Naylor would however take three strike-outs in the aftermath with Gomez and Toritani caught looking, Nishioka getting a hit, and Umeno striking out on a cutter. 

Things were looking dim for the Dragons, going down 4 early on is never a good look, but they mustered some courage and started their counter-attack. Endo opened the stanza grounding out to the pitcher, but it was the former White Sox slugger, Dayan Viciedo who stepped up and crunched his third homer in as many games. Who can stop this guy? A massive hit straight down the middle to cap a fantastic debut series. (Hopefully we can see some of that at the Nagoya Dome) 

More pain would be inflicted on Fujikawa as Hirata hit through the middle to get onto first. Fujii would strike-out but consecutive hits from Takahashi and Katsura put the Dragons back in with a chance. 4-2.

Naylor would start the bottom of the 4th inning with 3 consecutive strike-outs, downing Fujikawa, Takayama and Yokota in succession to continue his revival in the game. 

More action would game in the opening of the 5th as the fleet-footed Ohshima took to the second delivery served up at him to get a two base-hit. A walk to Hernandez would follow and a sacrifice hit from Endo would move the aforementioned duo to second and third. We all know now what comes in at 4, and the Cuban tank, Dayan Viciedo continued to put tread-marks all over the Kyocera dome hitting both runners home to even up the scores at 4-4. 

Naylor would see out the bottom of the 5th scoreless, while Shuhei Takahashi's hard work went unrewarded after being stranded on 3rd base after a fantastic two-base hit to start the stanza.The young Kanagawa Prefecture native looks to be really hitting his straps early on which spells great things for the future. The gap left by Luna seems to be have been suitably filled with by the bat and glove of Shuhei. 

The scoreline would not last forever. Naylor was put to rest after an up and down first outing, and one of the bullpen's brightest, Toshiya Okada came out to relieve the big man from Brisbane. Okada would last only 14 pitches however after walking Umeno, striking out Takayama and allowing a hit against Yokota to move runners to 1st and 3rd. A pinch moment must have been sensed by Tanishige. With Matt Hague coming up to bat, the Chunichi manager decided to send out the right-handed Shinji Tajima to relieve the southpaw, Okada. It was however to be a perhaps, poor decision in hindsight as Hague struck one between first and second to send Umeno home to make it 5-4. Tajima would then walk Fukudome to load the bases, but luckily complete failure was avoided as he struck out Gomez to end the innings.

The game from there would peeter out with neither team making any massive offensive plays. Closing pitchers on both sides did their jobs well and new Hanshin acquisition, Marcos Mateo threw down another un-hittable innings to claim his first save of the season.

An unfortunate end for the Dragons for what was an exciting game. This is however a worrying pattern where we are giving runs away early and having to chase. This was something we saw a lot of in pre-season as well. It's as though our pitchers aren't set before heading out and they lose their heads if things don't go there way early on. Ohno showed on Friday what to do, Yamai showed you the opposite and Naylor on Sunday made a concerted effort to big back the Tigers after the 4-0 breach. 

Big wraps again for Dayan Viciedo who drew a walk, struck 3 hits (including a homer and an RBI) and one strike-out in his third NPB outing. Very positive signs early in the season. It will be interesting to see how the other NPB pitchers adapt and if Viciedo can still hit some dongers in the pitcher paradise that is the Nagoya Dome. Praise also goes to some of the young guard, Katsura and Takahashi who both had two hits to their names to go along with their otherwise solid performances. 

Dayan Viciedo unsurprisingly set a record for a foreign slugger with his 3 consecutive home-runs in his first 3 games. Congratulations to Dayan! Not only that, but he managed to place his homers in different areas of the park, one in the left, the right and the centre. 

Tanishige was obviously disappointed with the loss, but concluded that "it was better than last year." He did however voice concerns about there being a lack of runners on base when Viciedo was coming up to bat to maximise the big man's impact.  

In other news, Matt Hague of the Tigers apparently set a record today, being the first foreigner for the Tigers to hit 3 consecutive RBIs in his first 3 games

As for some final thoughts, I think we are progressing and we are already looking better than last year. The extra pop provided by Viciedo is really going to raise the team as a whole. Pitching depth with starters will be an issue, but I'm quietly confident we'll finish 4th or above this year. Just a hunch. There seems to be a lot more hits and youth in this team this year and I'm looking forward to seeing how everyone develops.

Here are some highlights from the game to enjoy!

NB: Just a reminder that this will be the last individual match report until I either get the chance to go to a match (not super likely at the moment events) or the first round of inter-league games Whichever comes first.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Opening Round Game: 2 Chunichi 3-7 Hanshin, Yamai unimpressive, Viciedo homers again, 3/26

It was a performance to forget for the veteran, Daisuke Yamai who gave up 6 earned runs in 5 innings including a 3-run homer to Hanshin slugger, Mauro Gomez. The Dragons attempted to pick themselves up in the 6th and 7th, including a second consecutive homer for Dayan Viciedo, but it would be to no avail as the Osaka giants marched to victory in a 7-3 win.

On a lighter note, Hiroto Fuku made his professional debut with 3 balls to get rid of Ryota Imanari in the 8th.

Before we get underway with the match report, you can watch most of the game yourself thanks to a kind soul uploading the game to Youtube. Thanks to @NPB_reddit on twitter for the link.

So, let's get down to business.

Chunichi started the batting today against the might of the skillful Atsushi Nohmi. Issei Endo and Dayan Viciedo managed to get on base after two outs, but Ryosuke Hirata was unable to capitalize on the first inch into enemy territory getting caught out at short-stop.
The Tigers had similar fortunes in their first inning at the plate with Hague getting a 2 base hit on two outs before Kosuke Fukudome grounded out to second. Blows were exchanged equally until the bottom of the third inning.

Anyone who has watched Yamai in pre-season this year would have been extremely worried with him being in the starting rotation. He failed to impress at all and the best result he could muster was 1 run conceded against the Lotte Marines in a 1-1 draw. However, all looks good in hindsight and Yamai's errant run continued allowing two 2-base hits from Shun Takayama and Hague to score to put the Dragons 2-0 down. Credit must go to the Hanshin rookie Takayama who has not looked out of his depth at this level at all, so far making some very important contributions in his first two outings.

Yamai would continue to look shaky, giving up a number of walks and otherwise living dangerously but it wouldn't come to bite him until the 5th inning. After allowing a hit to Shintaro Yokota, Yamai then struck Hague enforcing a walk to allow two runners on base. Fukudome would fly-out leaving the count at two down, but it was the big man Mauro Gomez that would punish the error-prone pitcher by pulverizing a change-up delivery into the left stand making it 5-0.

Yamai would continue the rot by giving up 3 consecutive hits to Toritani, Nishioka and Okazaki to allow another run in pushing the score to 6-0. It would prove to be a knock-out for Yamai who would find himself relieved in the next inning.

Chunichi were able to launch a minor counter-attack in the following batting section as Dayan "Big Vic" Viciedo pummeled his second homer in as many games into the stands of the Kyocera Stadium to give the fans a little bit to feel better for. An error from Takashi Toritani against Shota Sugiyama would allow Atsushi Fujii to score as well making it 6-2 

Jordan Norberto, the new southpaw Dominican recruit, would come in as relief for Yamai in the following inning giving up 3 hits where Hague once again helped himself to an RBI pushing the score up to 7-2. It wouldn't quite be the end of the scoring though as in the following stanza, Issei Endo would hit Yohei Oshima home to make it 7-3 in the top of the 7th. 

Tajima, Fuku and Ogawa would see out the game as relief pitchers in a somewhat sullen end to a very action packed game. 

If it weren't for the performance from Yamai, this could have been a lot closer. Chunichi batters did well enough to get into good positions and get on base, but in the end it wasn't enough. We were 3 hits short on the previous game which had Tanishige wondering where another production point would come from.. Big wraps must go to Viciedo who helped himself to two hits apart from his homer in a very productive day at bat. Making contact 4 times out of 4  (finding  an outfielder once) for a bloke we were told would strike-out a lot makes me think he has what it takes to make a big impact this year.

Big congratulations to Hiroto Fuku as well who got his rather unspectacular debut out of the way. He was happy with the his debut admiring the power that he saw in the pro game.

Tanishige was rather unspectacular post-match remarking that "it's only one game"which you would expect. But is that also a prophecy to see out the rest of the season with only wins!? I hope so!

One more game in Osaka left before we go back to Nagoya to face Hiroshima! 

In other news, Drew Naylor, formerly of the Phillies organization, will be squaring up for game 3 against former Cubs and Rangers starter Kyuji Fujikawa Naylor's inclusion will probably mean one of Anderson Hernandez, Ricardo Nanita or Jordan Norberto will be left out for the final game in Osaka.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Opening Round; Game: 1 Chunichi 5-2 Hanshin, Viciedo hits his straps early, Takahashi growing, 3/25

In a fantastic return to the regular season, the Dragons closed out a 5-2 win against the Hanshin Tigers to immediately better their showing from last year and record their first opening day win in 4 years It was a mature showing from Yudai Ohno, the first left-handed opening day pitcher for Chunichi in 15 years,  plus some good quality hitting down the line-up to bring a momentous win against one of the most feared pitchers in the league in American, Randy Messenger.

With Ohno's early announcement that he was sending one down the middle to start proceedings, it was hardly unexpected when Hanshin rookie Takayama who took to the challenge and marched onto base with a hit. Former Blue Jays slugger Matt Hague then made his scoring debut sending Takayama home to score. However, somewhat embarrassingly, Hague underestimated the Chunichi outfield arms and got caught well short of his ground at second. 1-0 in the bottom of the first.

Chunichi steadily applied the pressure to Messenger drawing out more and more throws from the vet, and with 1 out and bases loaded in the 3rd, with Viciedo and Hirata to come, it looked like a great opportunity to turn the score around.But it was to no avail as Viciedo whacked a ferocious one straight at Toritani who caught the Cuban on the full. Hirata was also unable to make it count against his bogey pitcher as he struck it straight back to Messenger who subsequently threw Hirata out at first. Fans heads must have been a little down at the this point, mine certainly was, but the best was yet to come. An error forced by Katsura in the 4th would see the scores leveled at 1-1.

At the top of the 5th the Dragons would take the lead as Shuhei Takahashi struck a line drive to allow his captain Hirata to score. 1-2

Hanshin would however strike back in the bottom of the 5th from an unlikely source in Randy Messenger who, grounded a ball to third but sent a fleet footed Tsuyoshi Nishioka in to score. 2-2

Those terms wouldn't last long however as Dayan Viciedo made his first telling contribution in a Chunichi jersey getting a 2-base hit to send Araki home to make it 3-2. Messenger appeared to be tiring and losing his bearings but Ohno on the other side was taking to the challenge knocking over the clean-up squad of Hague, Fukudome and Gomes with 3 more outs in quick succession.

At the top of the 7th, Chunichi would load the bases and a tired Messenger saw that his night was put to end when he walked Hernandez allowing Takahashi to saunter home to make it 4-2. First reliever off the ranks would be a familiar face for Chunichi fans as former pitcher Akifumi Takahashi, a new signing for Hanshin this season, saw off Endo to end-o the innnings.

Naoto Tsuru took up the ball for the next Hanshin pitch, and it was to be a memorable one for Dragons fans as the Big V showed his power by launching a homer, at the time contested, to send fans into raptures and maybe get some dreaming about Tyrone Woods or Tony Blanco like numbers in future. 5-2.

  It would not be the only heroics for Viciedo as he pulled of a fantastic move on first base to deny Hanshin even site of victory. I dive to his right and a pass to Ohno made sure that nothing was getting past the big man today.

Ohno would see it to the 8th innning before being replaced by Matayoshi who was subsequently replaced by Fukutani who saw out the game in the 9th with an easy save.

A fantastic start to the season that had Tanishige gushing with praise for his players. He was however quietly confident stating that "I believed in them. It was a fantastic game."Viciedo described his moments leading up to his home run: "I was at two strikes so I thought I'd throw the bat at it and put in an area with no fielder. I'm really happy to have hit my first homer in Japan"

Here's a highlights package:

Friday, March 25, 2016

Starting Day: Possible Line-Up Against Hanshin Tigers 3/25

What's the first day of the season without some mindless speculating! Not the first day of the season, I'll tell you that!

So far the only thing we know for certain is that Yudai Ohno will be starting pitcher. We've known that since last year. Tanishige earmarked him for starting day duties probably from even before the draft last year, so we've not been nervously awaiting that announcement. Then again, there's really no-one more suitable.  We even know what Ohno's going to do first ball. He's announced to the world that he's sending a straight one out at Takayama. I kind of want him to through a change-up just to mess with them, but as much of a character as Ohno is, I don't think the plan will change.

What we can also deduce from the roster is that Shuhei Takahashi will be playing 3rd base. Donoue is the only other bloke who's been selected who can play there, but he's more of a 2nd/SS utility guy. 1st base as well will likely be reserved for Dayan Viciedo who played all of his outfield appearances bar one at 1st. He otherwise DH'd and played in the outfield on one occasion. Apparently his first outing on base was quote "terrible" and attracted more than a fair share of laughs from the senior staff, but he's obviously improved from there and looks set to make the position his own with Nobumasa Fukuda and Masahiko Morino failing to impress in pre-season.

Outfield seems like it won't change much from last season with Atsushi Fujii in the left, repeat golden glove winner, Yohei Oshima in the middle and captain Hirata on the right.

The main question will be what happens in the middle of the infield with battles between Anderson Hernandez and Issei Endo playing out for short-stop and veteran Masahiro Araki vying with Kyohei Kamezawa for the position at second.

Catcher as well will be a contest between Iori Katsura and Shota Sugiyama. Both will probably see a lot of game time this year in any case. Takeyama I expect to be nothing else but back-up.

Here's my predicted line-up:

8 Oshima
2 Araki
23 Endo
66 Viciedo
6 Hirata
4 Fujii
6 Takahashi
40 Katsura
22 Ohno

I'm basing this mainly on previous season and some of the pre-season games. Endo performed well at 3 in pre-season getting a few RBIs and otherwise being useful. Hirata might be an option there as well, but I think you need him to add to the clean-up. Araki gets the nod as well from me for experience and quality. He's a better fielder than Kamezawa as well. Katsura and Sugiyama is really a 50/50 for me, but Katsura I feel is better defensively and will hopefully counteract what can sometimes be an erratic Ohno.

Let's see what happens though. This will be a fantastic bang to the season and the Dragons boys will be looking to better their 3 losses in the same fixtures last year. First up Randy Messenger will be a tough ask, but I have hope that the quality is there to pull us through.

On the Farm: Chunichi Dragons v Hiroshima Carp (Game 3) March 24th

Decided to change the name of these to make them a bit easier to follow. "On the Farm" posts will be 2-gun/二軍/farm team game run-downs or maybe some news about them. For the time being we'll stick with just match reports.

The main event is today, but we'll get there later with some predictions and thoughts.

Game 3 against Hiroshima was a low scoring 1-1. The same "verge of the first-team" guys were there today in Fukuda and Morino while Hitoki "Our Save-ior" Iwase made an appearance in his bid to get back to fitness. Tatsuro Hamada, touted for starting-rotation duties when the team returns to Nagoya started proceedings.


Hamada, affectionately known as Hama-chan, took to the starting mound today and threw down 3 scoreless innings getting 3 strike-outs and conceding only 3 hits against 13 batters. A decent effort from the lefty.

Iwase, usually a closer by trade, took the next inning taking 12 balls to get his 3 batters out in one scoreless inning. Yuta Mutoh, a regular bullpen option in the past for the first team also kept the batters honest striking out 2 and conceding one hit in 2 scoreless innings. Takeshi Kaneko however was the unfortunate one to concede a run in this game, unfortunately off a wild pitch, but took 2 strikeouts back to the shed for his 1 inning. Aichi native, Daisuke Sobue saw off three batters in his one, and development player Takuya Mitsuma made the save striking out one and walking one.

Not too much to complain about apart from Kaneko who at least seems to be improving ever so slightly.


Masahiko Morino had only 2 at bats today as the DH and drew two walks for his trouble. Nobumasa Fukuda arrived at the plate four times for one hit and a strikeout. The hero of the day
with the bat however would be catcher Masato Matsui who sent Tatsuya Tani home to score in the 4th inning. The somewhat seasoned catcher hit two and struck out once in his three at bats.

Not a whole lot of note today, but the experienced lads that should be on the edges of the 1-gun are performing at this level reasonably well, as they should. No younger players particularly standing out, specifically with the bat, but there are some glimmers of hope.

In other 2-gun news, #1 draft pick Shinnosuke Ogasawara is reportedly in line for a starting position against Softbank on the 27th of this month. Although he performed admirably as a reliever for the first team in pre-season, it has been decided that the rookie will hone his game with older Ogasawara on the farm.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Western League Game: Chunichi Dragons v Hiroshima Carp (Game 2) (Farm) March 23rd

Second farm game against the Carp was played yesterday in Nagoya and it was an unfortunate loss for the home team as the Dragons were on the wrong end of a 3-7 scoreline putting a stop to a 4 game winning streak.

Not as many what you would call "first-teamers" in this game. But Dayan Viciedo, Nobumasa Fukuda and Masahiko Morino all played roles today. Takuya Kinoshita, the rookie catcher, who was perhaps unlucky to miss out on the opening day roster, started behind the plate.


"Yudai" (Yes, just Yudai) started proceedings for the Dragons and pitched 5 innings giving up 4 runs and 9 hits with only 2 strike-outs. Development player Junki Kishimoto threw one inning after the veteran starter and claimed a strike-out with not hits conceded. Takeshi Kaneko gave up 2 runs in 1 relief inning with no strike-outs showing he has to do a lot more to polish his form. Kentaro Nishikawa came in as closer but couldn't stem the tide as he conceded a run from his two innings but managed to claim 2 strikeouts against the 9 batters he faced.


Noticeable contributions in the batting came from no other than one of the potential ichi-gun players, in Nobumasa Fukuda who absolutely raked today with 4 hits from his 4 at-bats. Morino as well showing he was no slouch by scoring twice today and getting two walks and a hit. Kinoshita as well showed his batting credentials with two hits from two.
More Fukuda flips incoming!

Perhaps the most noticeable concern however was a complete lack of production from Viciedo who struck out once and didn't reach base in his 4 at-bats today. Let's hope he was just trying out a few new things.

No reports of any house fires today unfortunately, so no extra fun bits!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

First Roster Announced!

The first roster of the season has been announced for the Dragons with mostly predictable inclusions for what should be the squad for the first 3 match-ups against Hanshin Tigers on the 25th, 26th and 27th.

First of all, the pitchers:

Half Fillipino Ogawa gets the nod.

22 Yudai Ohno
29 Daisuke Yamai
99 Jordan Norberto


12 Shinji Tajima
16 Katsuki Matayoshi
21 Toshiya Okada
24 Koji Fukutani
34 Hiroto Fuku
57 Ryuya Ogawa

Ohno, Yamai and Jordan getting the nod for the first three games. Ohno will be opening day starter on Friday night in Osaka. Naylor, Wakamatsu and Hamada will be the likely picks to start for the first run of home games in front of the home fans.

Bullpen has a couple of surprises with 2015 draftee Fuku and the 24 year old Ogawa getting a run. Both saw a lot of action during the pre-season and Fuku in particular looked alright. My last impression of Ogawa wasn't a good one though, but Tanishige obviously know more than I do. Otherwise, very solid as usual with Tajima, Matayoshi, Okada and Fukutani rounding out a pretty strong and balanced with 3 righties and 3 lefties.


40 Iori Katsura
45 Shota Sugiyama
52 Shingo Takeyama

Katsura and Sugiyama saw plenty of time behind the plate last season so were expected to make it in, but most fans had new draftee Takuya Kinoshita penned in as the third catcher. Takeyama seems to have taken Tanishige's fancy which seems fair enough given Kinoshita's fairly average performances.
A bit of time in the farm might not be of harm. Besides, plenty of games left in the season.


00 Anderson Hernandez
2 Masahiro Araki
3 Shuhei Takahashi
23 Issei Endo
53 Kyohei Kamezawa
63 Naomichi Donoue
66 Dayan Viciedo

Pretty much to be expected. Although Viciedo is listed as an outfielder, he'll almost certainly play on first-base with no other recognised first-baseman on the roster. Viciedo has played there most of pre-season as well. Araki has looked good in pre-season as well as Endo. Probably the strongest part of the team aside from the bullpen. Viciedo's defence will be a minor worry however.

Kudo, the former Giants man, is in.

4 Atsushi Fujii
6 Ryosuke Hirata
8 Yohei Oshima
26 Masataka Iryo
60 Ricardo Nanita
62 Takahito Kudo
69 Kazuyuki Akasaka

I fully expect to see Fujii in the left-corner, Hirata in the right with Oshima in the middle. No real change defensively to last year. Oshima will probably stay as lead-off hitter as he has for the last few seasons. Hirata very likely to come in at 3 with Fujii batting a bit further down. Iryo has worked hard for his spot year and has looked really good with bat in hand. Very nimble as well, good defence. Akasaka as well has been solid but the biggest surprise is Kudo who started off in the second squad in Spring Training and worked his way into contention. Has been very productive and had two pretty important hits in one of the most recent open games. Well done to the veteran.

Looks to be a strong roster for our first games of the year. Looking forward to seeing the boys destroy pre-season expectations and mount a challenge for the play-off spots. Optimistic, but who knows, this is baseball!


I have updated the roster on Wikipedia.

/u/tensaibaka on the NPB subreddit has kindly written up all the team rosters in English over here.

Dayan "Dayum" Viciedo's Pre-Season Dongs

I'm sure that most people out in the ether who follow the NPB in the English language probably have a team in the MLB and will probably be familiar with our new lad from Cuba. Former White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo has been signed up for the Dragons for the next 2 years. He's currently the teams highest earner and there is much excitement about what he can do. Last season, the Dragons had the fewest home runs in the Central League and now captain Ryosuke Hirata was the leader with 13. A pretty paltry sum.

The Dragons faithful have been treated to the home run styles of Tony Blanco and Tyrone Woods in the past and many are hoping that Viciedo can produce the same kind of numbers. There are concerns that he might strike out a lot, but others are predicting 35 - 40 homers this year for the former Major Leaguer. He will be wearing the number 66 this year which was chosen for the amount of homers Viciedo reaped in the Majors.

So far, the Cuban has had some success against NPB pitching hitting a few homers in the pre-season build-up including a nice long one at the pitcher friendly Nagoya Dome.

Here's a few of his best hits.

Western League Game: Chunichi Dragons v Hiroshima Carp (Game 1) (Farm) March 22nd

First game this round against the Carp and it was a 3-1 win to the Dragons with some, who you would expect will be, first team regulars getting some more game time with the NPB season about to start.

Morino, Wakamatsu, Fukuda and Viciedo who are in or on the fringes of the opening day roster had hit outs with varying success.

Wakamatsu started and threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings with one hit off his pitching. Muto, Achira, Sobue also all went scoreless with closer and development player Mitsuma getting the save despite conceding one.

Viciedo had 1 hit and a walk out of his 3 at-bats while Fukuda picked up an RBI from a sacrifice fly. The pressure is on Masahiko Morino to perform though as he only picked up a walk from his 3 times at the plate. Morino can play first or third base, but the development of Shuhei Takahashi and the signings of Viciedo (who has been playing first in most of the pre-season match-ups) might mean he'll have to settle for either a bench role or more time in the farm team for the time being.

Best performance for an outfield player this game was from Yusuke Matsui who has been with the farm team since the beginning of Spring training. Matsui scored twice and hit 3 in a very productive game for the in and out outfielder.

A good start for the second team and a good start for new manager Michihiro Ogasawara. A lot of positives to take away from the game.

In other news, a house caught fire during the game and billows of smoke could be seen during play. Shunta Wakamatsu's reaction: "Is that so? I didn't even notice."

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Yoshimi back, legendary duo state their claims

I may as well jump straight into what I want to do and have some more opinion pieces and other tidbits as we go through the season.

Some of the best news of an otherwise dire pre-season for the Dragons has been the return of ace pitcher, Kazuki Yoshimi following nerve repair surgery on his right-arm. Yoshimi successfully threw down 4 2/3 innings giving up no runs and only 4 hits. A great come-back to the first team squad. Yoshimi has been making his recovery in the off-season and spent the Spring camp in Okinawa with Michihiro Ogasawara's farm team squad. Yoshimi has not played himself back into the first squad reckoning and has been slated for a mid-April. The key rumour has been is that he will be fit to join the main squad for the Giants game on April 10th.

Yoshimi's return should be a huge lift for the team and could mean an extra few wins this season in the struggle for a playoffs position.

In other related news, Daisuke Yamai has solidified his spot in the starting rotation following his
strike-less 5 innings against Lotte in the game previous to Yoshimi's return. He only gave up one run, which considering his previous outing this pre-season is quite an improvement, but there is still worry over how good he can be this season.

Yamai will now join Drew Naylor and Shunta Wakamatsu as the third right-handed rotation option with Yudai Ohno, Jordan Norberto and Tatsuro Hamada all but assured of the three southpaw spots in Tanishige's opening rotation.

One can only assume that Yamai will be the most likely to make way when Yoshimi completes his come-back.

Finally, in other news of old boys making come-backs, the other half of the 2007 Japan Series winning perfect game, Hitoki Iwase made his long awaited return having been away from the mound for a year and seven months before his save against Lotte in the same game as Yamai. Iwase at 41 is certainly the senior statesman of the team but still a pitcher of great quality (and holds the record for saves in the NPB). However his main opposition will be one of the Dragons greatest bullpen prospects in Koji Fukutani who has been the closer for the last season. It is probably likely that Fukutani and Iwase will share closing duties this year.

An Introduction: Why I'm doing this

Every blog needs a beginning and I'm here to provide you with one

I'm an Australian salary-man in Tokyo with a good view of Jingu Stadium. I speak fairly fluent Japanese and have lived here for a good 3 years. I was never really all that interested in baseball before coming here and it has since consumed me like my coffee addiction. It's not a big sport back home, but it sure is here, and hearing about it everyday made me want to go and check it out. Having been a cricket fan since I was a wee lad, there wasn't much I needed to be converted. Very similar principals, both fairly slow paced games.

If you live in Tokyo and can see Jingu Stadium, what are you doing writing a blog about the Chunichi Dragons, a team based in Nagoya over 800kms away?

Good question. Although the logical conclusion would be to support the Swallows, Giants or even the Marines (my wife's home team) I chose the Dragons. The main reason was that they were the first team I ever really even heard a whisper about when I did a 1 year exchange in Gifu prefecture, a close neighbour of Nagoya/Aichi and part of the general catchment area for the Dragons. That was where the seeds were planted. I knew of the Dragons but knew little about them. I knew even less about the other teams in the league. All I knew was that the Dragons had been very recently Japan series champions and they were well loved in the area. That was enough for me at the time where I thought, sure, if I'm going to follow baseball it'll be the Dragons. Association football is my other love and having first chosen Nagoya Grampus as my team to follow at around the same time, it seemed only natural for me to support the Dragons as well when I started getting interested in baseball.

QVC Marines Field
After watching the sports news every day and getting a feel for what baseball meant in Japan, I had the opportunity to win some tickets to see the Marines play against Chunichi. Out of dumb luck, my wife and I won the tickets and spent a day at QVC Stadium where I started to develop my love of the boys in navy blue. It was a fun day out and I was in enemy territory. I got my first taste, with a loss, and enjoyed it. What kicked off an interest into fandom however was one more visit to see the Dragons, but this time at Jingu Stadium. Another loss followed, but the love blossomed and before long I had started fiddling with Japanese baseball video games like Pro Yakyuu Spirits and some other mobile games and started to really get to know the players, what their strengths and weaknesses were and what sort of mark they had been leaving on the game. (The Spirits series is particularly in depth with tracking career stats)

My joy for the game overflowed and I started following more and more of the Chunichi games, watching them lose...and lose...then have a little win streak, before losing and finishing 5th in 2015. After watching the 2015 draft, I have kept my eyes on Dragons news daily, mostly from the local sports rags, for anything happening. How the starting rotation was shaping up, which young players were showing promise, what foreign players we were going after. Having found little forum to discuss the Dragons apart from the Japanese 2-Channel, the official Facebook and the Reddit community /r/NPB I have wanted to bring information of the team to those interested mostly from Japanese language sources that would not be widely readable for the English speaking public interested in Japanese baseball and specifically the Dragons.

What I hope to achieve with this blog is a relatively comprehensive approach to all things Chunichi Dragons and the NPB. English language sources about Japanese baseball are scarce enough as they are, let alone for the Dragons (apart from the blog Moeyo Dragons). I want to hopefully fill a hole in the coverage of the game in Japan and keep those of you interested in the Nagoya giants in the know. I'm still new to the baseball thing, so if I mix up some lingo or say something a bit odd...or sound like I don't know what I'm talking about, that'll be the reason. Please be patient and I hope you can provide some helpful feedback if I do start talking like a bumbling idiot.

My main hope is to firstly provide information on rumours, match results and everything that I find interesting!

First of all, as a bit of an introduction about myself I'll throw out a few basic facts.

Lives: Chiba prefecture
Drew and I share the same home city!

First game: Marines vs Dragons, Inter-League, June 2014

Sports: Cricket (Australia) , Association football (Brisbane Roar, Nagoya Grampus, PSV Eindhoven) and baseball (Chunichi Dragons, Brisbane Bandits, Minnesota Twins)

Favourite players: Drew Naylor, Shuhei Takahashi, Yohei Oshima, Atsushi Fujii, Masahiro Araki

Prediction this year: 5th, 6th

Best ballpark: So far, Jingu, but I need to broaden my horizons.