Category: Independent Leagues

[3/9/2017] Kochi hold press conference for Manny Ramirez

The Kochi Fighting Dogs held a press conference for Manny Ramirez at a hotel in Kochi earlier today. He donned the uniform 99 with the name Manny above it. About 130 people attended the press conference (media, sponsors, team personnel).

Notes taken from various sources:

  • Playing in Japan was one of his dreams and he is glad it came true.
  • He wants to show baseball fans what he is still capable of accomplishing.
  • He wants to play for as long as he is passionate about the game.
  • He is open to play in the NPB and will talk to any team interested in him.
  • He went with Manny because most people in Japan will probably think of Alex Ramirez if they see Ramirez.
  • Kochi plans to guarantee a spot as a designated hitter with at least two plate appearances. If he wants to do more, they will consider it.
  • He is slated to join the team tomorrow (March 10) at Ochi Sogo Sports Park for practices. Depending on his condition, he might be able to play in the Pro/Amateur tournament on March 11 and 12.

Source: Kochi 3/7/2017 (uniform), Kochi Manny Gallery, Kochi Pin Badge, Kochi Manny Section, Tokyo Sports 3/9/2017, Daily Sports 3/9/2017, Daily Sports 3/9/2017, Sports Hochi 3/9/2017, Sponichi 3/9/2017, Nikkan Sports 3/9/2017, Nikkan Sports 3/9/2017, Nikkan Sports 3/9/2017, Nikkan Sports 3/9/2017

[UPDATE 3/11 @ 2:43am]

Ramirez practiced with the team on March 10.

  • He arrived right on time (9:30am).
  • About thirty members of the media and around 100 fans were in attendance.
  • He took fifty-three swings during live batting practice and hit four to five over the fence.

A few other notes.

  • He has been given use of a Mercedes Benz. Team staff will drive him around.
  • He is staying in a suite at a hotel. Valued at about 80,000 yen a night.
  • He has been promised all the sushi he wants to eat while he is with the team.
  • Kochi is planning to open an English site offering Manny merchandise.
  • Practices are apparently optional.

Source: Tokyo Sports 3/10/2017, Tokyo Sports 3/10/2017, Daily Sports 3/10/2017, Daily Sports 3/10/2017, Nikkan Sports 3/10/2017, Sports Hochi 3/10/2017

[UPDATE 3/11 @ 6:09pm]

Notes from March 11.

  • He did not play in today’s exhibition game against Kochi University.
  • He is still battling jet lag.
  • He participated in pre-game practices. He took indoor batting practice after warm-ups and playing catch.
  • He ate udon for lunch. He also ate a rice ball and teppanyaki (grilled) chicken.
  • He stayed and watch the game until the fifth inning.
  • He might be able to play in tomorrow’s exhibition game against Shikoku Ginko.

Source: Daily Sports 3/11/2017, Tokyo Sports 3/11/2017

[UPDATE 3/16 @ 3:26pm]

Ramirez played in his first exhibition game with Kochi today. He got the start at designated hitter and batted lead-off against the Nomo Baseball Club.

  • 1B6 in the first
  • G1 with a runner on second and one out in the second
  • G6 with none on and two out in the fourth
  • 2B8 with a runner on second and two out in the sixth

Source: Daily Sports 3/16/2017

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[3/1/2017] Shuichiro Osada signs with Niigata

The BC League’s Niigata Albirex Baseball Club announced today that they reached an agreement with thirty-six-year-old Shuichiro Osada.

Osada began his professional career with the Seibu Lions in 2002. He was traded to the Yokohama Bay Stars for Naoto Watanabe during the 2013 season. He was released by Yokohama last year and attended the twelve team tryouts in November in an attempt to find a new home in the NPB.

Source: Niigata 3/1/2017, Nikkan Sports 3/1/2017

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[2/27/2017] Four NPB Umpire School graduates given Independent League assignments

The NPB announced on February 27 that four graduates from the 4th NPB Umpire School (December 2016) were given assignments at independent leagues as Umpires in Training. 

  • Toshiki Moriguchi (22) – Shikoku Island League plus
  • Yuya Kimura (21) – Route Inn Baseball Challenge League
  • Shuto Takahashi (18) – Route Inn Baseball Challenge League
  • Yuta Yamahara (18) – Shikoku Island League plus

Source: NPB 2/27/2017

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[2/14/2017] Katsuhiko Saka signs with 06 Bulls

The 06 Bull announced today that former Hanshin Tiger Katsuhiko Saka will join their team as a player-coach for the 2017 season. He was assigned the uniform number 35.

Source: 06 Bull 2/14/2017, Sanspo 2/14/2017

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RAK

[1/27/2017] Rakuten assigns Daisuke Kusano to Niigata

The Rakuten Eagles announced today that Daisuke Kusano will be sent to the Niigata Albirex Baseball Club as a visiting coach from March 15 until the end of the season. Kusano was Rakuten’s Ni-gun batting coach the last three seasons.

Source: Rakuten announcement, Niigata announcement

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[1/12/2017] Ken Kato to join Niigata front office

The BC League’s Niigata Albirex Baseball Club announced today that former Yomiuri Giant Ken Kato will be join their front office. A press conference is scheduled for January 16.

Source: Niigata announcement, Sponichi 1/12/2017

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[1/9/2017] Kochi Fighting Dogs reach agreement with Manny Ramirez

The Shikoku Island League’s Kochi Fighting Dogs announced today that they reached an agreement with forty-four-year-old Manny Ramirez. Officials from the team met Ramirez near Miami, Florida on January 9. The two sides are still discussing his arrival schedule and contract length.

Also, YouTuber qoonin posted an interview with Ramirez. The interview is primarily in Spanish with Japanese subtitles. You can view the footage by clicking here. Below is a summary:

  • Why he decided to come out of retire – after spending time in the Dominican Republic, he started feeling the urge to play again.
  • When he seriously started thinking about a comeback – he started swinging the bat and started taking some batting practice in 2016. He felt he was in good condition and talked it over with his wife. He started thinking about a comeback in the fall. He decided to attempt a comeback because his wife also supported him.
  • Why he agreed to play for an independent league team in Japan – he received offers from teams in other countries, but picked Japan because of his interest in Japanese culture. He also said he liked the Japanese approach to baseball.
  • Would he accept an offer from an NPB team – he said yes and that he would use the opportunity to show everyone that he can still play.

Source: Kochi announcement, Kochi Facebook announcement

[UPDATE 1/10 @ 11:34pm]

Ramirez’s contract might be good for just the first-half of the season (about three months). The end of the contract should fall right around the end of July, which also coincides with the NPB signing deadline (July 31).

Source: Nikkan Sports 1/10/2017

[UPDATE 1/1 @ 9:46pm]

Ramirez found out the team was holding tryouts through online sources like Facebook and reached out to the team through Zak Colby in November. The team did not know how serious he was at first because communications were a bit slow at first, but things started rolling in December and the two sides started talking about a contract.

Source: ZakZak 1/11/2017

[UPDATE 2/27 @ 4:39pm]

Ramirez might arrive in Japan on either March 7 or 8. A press conference is scheduled for March 9. He is expected to join Kochi for practices beginning on March 10.

Ramire’z contract might be for about two months. Kochi is planning to use him at designated hitter batting fourth. His uniform number will be 99.

Source: Daily Sports 2/27/2017

[UPDATE 2/28 @ 5:46pm]

Kochi released Ramirez’s schedule today. He is set to arrive in Japan at Narita Airport on March 7 and take a connecting flight to Kochi on the same day. A press conference will be held on March 9. He will participate in his first practices with the team on March 10.

Source: Kochi 2/28/2017

[UPDATE 3/7 @ 11:07pm]

Ramirez arrived at Narita Airport in Japan earlier today with his wife. A number of fans (over thirty) greeted him at the airport.

Source: Tokyo Sports 3/7/2017, Daily Sports 3/7/2017, Daily Sports 3/7/2017Nikkan Sports 3/7/2017, Sponichi 3/7/2017

[UPDATE 3/9 @ 12:27pm]

There were six TV cameras, about fifty members of the media, and around fifty fans at the airport. Ramirez was able to sign thirty or so autographs before he had to leave. He arrived with eleven suitcases.

Source: ZakZak 3/9/2017

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[1/6/2017] Akira Iwamoto to play for BC League’s Fukui

The Fukui Miracle Elephants announced today that they reached an agreement Akira Iwamoto. The twenty-two-year-old was released by the Hanshin Tigers in October last year and attended the twelve team tryouts in November.

Source: Fukui announcementNikkan Sports 11/6/2017

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[12/22/2016] Kei Igawa still not done

Hyogo Blue Sandars announced today that they signed thirty-seven-year-old Kei Igawa to a practice player contract, effective December 15. He was assigned the uniform number 29.

Igawa was released by the Orix Buffaloes after the 2015 season. He spent this year working out with Hyogo. He agreed to sign a practice player contract because he still wants to play. His goal next year is to sign a standard contract with Hyogo and pitch a full season.

Source: Hyogo announcement, Sponichi 12/22/2016, Daily Sports 12/22/2016, Nikkan Sports 12/22/2016, Tokyo Sports 12/22/2016

[UPDATE 12/23 @ 10:01pm]

A few more details on Igawa’s current status and contract.

Hyogo is part of the Baseball First League. Aside from some exceptions, players do not receive a salary, regardless of the type of contract they sign. Igawa will not be receiving a salary.

Igawa is not quite 100 percent healthy. He has some issues with his calf and lower back, but can still throw around 140km/h.

Source: Tokyo Sports 12/23/2016

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[12/2/2016] Manny Ramirez talking to Island League’s Kochi

According to a report by Nikkan Sports, Manny Ramirez is interested in playing baseball in Japan. The Shikoku Island League’s Kochi Fighting Dogs are currently talking to Ramirez’s agent about a possible contract.

It all started on November 11 when his agent and a Kochi player (infielder from overseas) approached the Fighting Dogs and asked if they might be interested in Ramirez. Kochi is open to the idea of signing the forty-four-year-old as a player, not a coach.

Source: Nikkan Sports 12/2/2016, Nikkan Sports 12/2/2016

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NPB Standings [Full]
G W L T
Hiroshima 143 89 52 2
Yomiuri 143 71 69 3
Yokohama 143 69 71 3
Hanshin 143 64 76 3
Yakult 143 64 78 1
Chunichi 143 58 82 3
G W L T
Nippon Ham 143 87 53 3
Softbank 143 83 54 6
Lotte 143 72 68 3
Seibu 143 64 76 3
Rakuten 143 62 78 3
Orix 143 57 83 3