A few notes from Tuesday’s (January 24) Samurai Japan press conference:
- Shohei Otani, Tomoyuki Sugano, Takahiro Norimoto, and Ayumu Ishikawa will most likely be used as starters.
- Otani could get the first start, followed by Sugano, then Ishikawa. If Japan advances, Norimoto could get the first start of the second round.
- Otani’s primary role will be pitcher. Hiroki Kokubo is also thinking about using Otani as a designated hitter or pinch-hitter, but will first have to get permission from the Nippon Ham Fighters.
- Shintaro Fujinami will most likely be used in a long-relief role.
- Yoshihisa Hirano and Yuki Matsui are candidates for the closer role, based on experience. However, the closer will most likely be the hot hand in the bullpen.
- At twenty-one years of age, Matsui is currently the youngest player on the Samurai Japan roster.
- Takuya Nakashima was a strong candidate for the WBC roster, but he was unavailable due to preparation reasons. The Nippon Ham Fighters originally assigned him to Ichi-gun spring camp in Arizona, but later reassigned him to Ni-gun spring camp for similar reasons.
There have also been reports that he may have hurt his right wrist during workouts. UPDATE Nakashima told reporters on January 26 that he wanted to participate in the WBC, but decided not to because of conditioning reasons (he was behind in his training and did not want to rush himself). Source: Sports Hochi 1/27/2017
- The last roster spot could go to Softbank’s Kenta Imamiya. Other candidates also include Hiroshima’s Kosuke Tanaka and Lotte’s Daichi Suzuki. Munenori Kawasaki could also be under consideration.
- Norichika Aoki is a candidate to bat first or second.
- Sho Nakata and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo are candidates to bat clean-up.
- Nobuhiro Matsuda will most likely get the start at third, Hayato Sakamoto the start at short, and Tetsuto Yamada the start at second. Ryosuke Kikuchi will be considered for short and third.
Source: Samurai Japan announcement, Nikkan Sports 1/25/2017, Nikkan Sports 1/25/2017, Nikkan Sports 1/25/2017, Nikkan Sports 1/25/2017, Sports Hochi 1/25/2017, Sports Hochi 1/25/2017, Sponichi 1/25/2017, Daily Sports 1/25/2017, Daily Sports 1/25/2017, Daily Sports 1/25/2017, Sponichi 1/25/2017, Sponichi 1/25/2017, Sponichi 1/25/2017