New Player Reps (新選手会長)
Senshu-kaicho doesn't really translate very well into English. I mean, "captain" is not the right word, but "player rep" isn't exactly a direct translation either. It's sort of like "class president", but.
Giants: Shinnosuke Abe (taking over for Tomohiro Nioka, traded to Fighters)
Yakult: Masanori Ishikawa (taking over for Noriyuki Shiroishi)
Yokohama: Shuuichi Murata (taking over for Ryoji Aikawa, FA going... somewhere...)
Orix: Takeshi Hidaka (taking over for Hirotoshi Kitagawa, getting old?)
Fighters: Kensuke Tanaka (taking over for Makoto Kaneko... argh...)
Haven't heard of any other changes, though I have to wonder who the Softbank kaicho will be -- Kazumi Saitoh is still listed on the JPBPA site, though I could have sworn Munenori Kawasaki had taken over for him.
Chase Lambin Tries Out With Lotte And Lives To Blog About It
From NY Future Stars: Chase Lambin went to try out for the Chiba Lotte Marines and had quite an adventure. A fun read.
They went to the Japan Series at Seibu one day after I did, for Game 5. Dang. Would have been funny to run into Bobby there, that's for sure. Though it was sort of amusing to read his stories about Bobby predicting all of the hits in Series Game 3 and thinking, "Wait a minute, I know exactly who he's talking about..."
Anyway, no idea whether Chase will end up on the Marines roster next year or not -- from his minor league stats he actually looks like a perfect candidate to succeed in Japan -- but, if he does, rest assured I'll do my best to stalk him next season.
Yes, I heard about Eri Yoshida
Actually, Simon mentioned it to me during the Asia Series, but I was too preoccupied cheering for the Lions to beat the Lions to think about it at the time.
So yes, the Kobe 9 Cruise team drafted a 16-year-old high school girl named Eri Yoshida. She throws a sidearm/submarine knuckleball, and was apparently inspired by Tim Wakefield.
(Youtube video here.)
I am a little bit unclear on whether she's really the "first professional female baseball player in Japan", namely because I don't really understand exactly what Ayumi Kataoka's status is per se. I mean, the Ibaraki Golden Golds are still probably a lower level team than the Rakuten Golden Eagles, but they do compete in the nationwide club/industrial tournaments. Those tournaments are run by the Japan Amateur Baseball Association, though, so perhaps the club players simply don't count as pros? I think Ayumi was still in college when she started playing for the Golden Golds, too.
The thing is, the independent leagues aren't exactly pro level either, and their players also have to have day jobs to make a living (there were stories of Shikoku Island League guys basically working in the fields during the week and getting paid in food, though I'm not sure I entirely believe that).
Anyway, so far this new Kansai league has four teams (Osaka, Kobe, Akashi, and then Wakayama), and I get the feeling they want to have two more teams in Nara and Shiga, to bring the league to six like the other independent leagues.
Yoshida, for the record, lives in Kanagawa, near Tokyo, so it seems she'll have to transfer schools to somewhere in Kobe if she wants to play with this team.
I think it's pretty cool, of course, given that one of the worst days of my childhood was when my mother informed me that little girls can't become professional baseball players when they grow up.
I was already making a goal of seeing Shikoku Island League and Hokushinetsu League games next year, so I'll just have to add the Kansai ones to my list as well. I wonder if Yoshida will actually play regularly though, or if she really is just a publicity gimmick for the new league and team. I'm sure plenty of people come to Golden Golds games hoping to see Ayumi and don't get to.
Unfortunately, this is definitely going to put even more of a damper on "throws like a girl" jokes. Not that Yukiko Ueno didn't do that already, but still.