Tigers on Social Media

As camp is set to open tomorrow morning, I thought this might be a good time to make a list of players on either Facebook or Twitter. Not as many players are as active (publicly, that is) on social media as you might think. Here are the ones I am currently following. If you know of any others, let me know. Clicking on the capture will lead you to the player’s page/feed.

Matt Murton – Twitter (English) *He also has a Japanese one that someone just translates all his tweets for him. I’m pretty sure it’s official.*

MurtonTwitter

Mauro Gomez – Twitter (mostly Spanish)

GomezTwitter

Takashi Toritani – Facebook

ToritaniFB

Tsuyoshi Nishioka – Facebook (run by an administrator but Tsuyoshi sometimes posts too)

NishiokaFB

Ryota Imanari – Facebook

ImanariFB

Naoto Tsuru – Facebook

TsuruFB

Ryutaro Umeno – Facebook

UmenoFB

Ryutaro Umeno – Twitter

UmenoTwitter

Ryoma Matsuda – Twitter

MatsudaTwitter

Yuta Iwasada – Twitter

IwasadaTwitter

The Boys Are Back in Town! Well, Almost!

Guess who just got back today?
Those wild-eyed boys that had been away…

MaurogomezstolenpassporthanshintigersThin Lizzy had a smash hit in 1976 with their celebration of reunification. The Hanshin Tigers were hoping for something similar these past two days but first baseman Mauro Gomez experienced a smash of his own.

Scheduled to leave his home country of the Dominican Republic on January 27, his car got broken into and his bag containing his passport got swiped. As a result he cannot enter Japan and he’s waiting for a new passport back home. This obviously puts his timely arrival at spring training in Okinawa at risk. He was hoping to be on time this year after arriving late last year due to the birth of his first daughter and her subsequent illness. Gomez and the team are doing everything they can to get him to Japan as soon as possible.

RandymessengerkansaiairporthanshintigersAnd now for some better news. Ace pitcher Randy Messenger arrived safely at Kansai International Airport yesterday. He’s with his family which includes newborn son (his 4th child) Roland. He said he spent much of his off-season taking care the kids and being a good stay-at-home dad. Looking forward to another great season from the big guy.

MattmurtonhanshintigersOutfielder Matt Murton  also arrived in recent days looking a little slimmer than last year. The batting champion says he worked his core really hard these past few weeks and hopes to lead the team to a championship this year. As always, he says, when he puts in the work and does his best, the numbers should follow. We sure hope they do!

SeunghwanohhanshintigersFinally, closer Seung-hwan Oh flew in from Korea couple days ago as well. He actually looks a little bit bigger than last season, but that is the result of working out hard in Guam the past month or so. Oh hopes to do three things the season. First of all he had his worst performances against the Giants this past year. He doesn’t feel like they were particularly more difficult than other teams, and hopes to be able to stop them dead in their tracks this year. He got some great advice in the off-season from former Giant killer Yutaka Enatsu and really hopes to become the next great stopper. Second, he wants to have better results during interleague play. Last season he got a little bit sick during that time, and racked up a very mediocre 4.15 ERA. This also included half of his 4 losses on the year. Finally, he hopes to reduce the number of blown saves the season. That will help contribute to a pendant and hopefully a championship too!

So now we await the return of Mauro Gomez, and then we can truly say the boys are back in town, ready to produce another smash hit in Kansai and bring the club a championship — one that’s 30 years in the waiting.

Great Tiger Moments 2: June 26, 1986

I’m reading a book right now called 巨人ー阪神論 (Kyojin-Hanshin Ron — Giants/Tigers Discourse). Basically it’s a guided conversation between 1980s Giants ace Suguru Egawa and 1980s Tigers cleanup hitter Masayuki Kakefu. They discuss everything from their playing days and beyond. Still halfway through but I came across a bit about this moment:

June 26, 1986. Tigers legend Randy Bass has hit home runs in six straight games. One more and he ties the record set by home run king Sadaharu Oh. Korakuen is full and the Giants have their best pitcher in the mound. On this day, he’s not exactly at his best, giving up 5 runs through 7 innings including a bomb to Kakefu. Enter the 8th, score tied up. Egawa looks at the on deck circle. Bass. He’s managed to focus all his energy on the Colonel so far, leaving him hitless in 4 at bats.

This time, Bass sits back in the batter’s box a little more than usual. Egawa sees this and, against his catcher’s call, delivers a heater high and inside. Check the result below:

Hit clear out of the park. Tigers lead 6-5 and hold on to win. Egawa was not told by his manager (guess who? Oh himself) to pitch around Bass, but he had heard whispers throughout the day from press and teammates that he should not let his manager’s record be tied. Still, Egawa says, he couldn’t resist trying to beat the man with his go-to pitch.

The Tigers would finish the year in third but on this night, it looked like 1985 all over again.

Offseason Report 8: Camp Roster Announced!

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Spring Training begins on February 1st in Ginoza, Okinawa and finishes on the 25th. The Tigers have announced the 38 players who will take part in this camp.

Other players, either of their own volition or club orders, will train with the minor league affiliate team in Aki City, Kochi. Here are the 38:

Pitchers: Daiki Enokida, Yuta Iwasada, Atsushi Nohmi, Shintaro Fujinami, Kazuya Tsutsui, Minoru Iwata, Seung-hwan Oh, Hiroaki Saiuchi, Takumi Akiyama, Shinobu Fukuhara, Tsuyoshi Ishizaki, Shoya Yamamoto, Kazuyuki Kaneda, Randy Messenger, Akira Iwamoto, Kentaro Kuwahara, Kazuhito Futagami, Hiroya Shimamoto.

Catchers: Shinji Komiyama, Kazunari Tsuruoka, Ryutaro Umeno, Takashi Shimizu.

Infielders: Takashi Toritani, Fumiya Hojoh, Hiroki Uemoto, Mauro Gomez, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Naoto Nishida, Ryota Imanari, Naomasa Yohkawa, Fumiya Araki.

Outfielders: Kohei Shibata, Yamato Maeda, Kosuke Fukudome, Matt Murton, Taiga Egoshi, Hayata Itoh, Masahiro Nakatani.

The exhibition game schedule is as follows:
Wednesday, February 11, 13:00 vs. Nippon Ham Fighters in Nago City
Friday, February 13, 13:00 vs. Samsung Lions (Oh’s team in Korea???) in Ginoza
Tuesday, February 17, 13:00 vs. Rakuten Golden Eagles in Ginoza
Thursday, February 19, 13:00 vs. Yakult Swallows in Urasoe
Tuesday, February 24, 13:00 vs. DeNA Baystars in Ginoza

The players get days off on the 5th, 10th, 16th and 20th.

I sure wish I could be there to see the players and coaches as they get ready for the upcoming season! Train hard, men! We want a championship in 2015! GO TIGERS!

Great Tiger Moments 1: April 30, 2009

The 2009 season was not a good one for the Hanshin Tigers. They did not make the playoffs, finishing 4th in the Central League with a 67-73-4 record. For one magical night, though, fans rejoiced as though the team had won it all.

At Koshien Stadium on April 30, 2009, the team was facing the pathetic (last-place) Yokohama Baystars. This particular series was tied 1-1, and the third match looked to be wrapped up by the visiting team. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the score was 2-0. The Tigers brought in a pinch hitter (Imaoka) in place of the pitcher, though it seemed like it could easily end with his at bat. Instead, the unthinkable happened:

That’s right. Five straight hits (Imaoka single, Hirano triple, Sekimoto single, Toritani single, Kanemoto walk-off single) and the Tigers walked off the field winners and owners of a 11-11-1 record to end the opening month. Exciting baseball, is it not?

More Toritani and Blue Jays News (Unrelated in a way)

toritani3Sanspo is reporting that Toritani has signed a monster contract (for Japan) with the Tigers: a 5-year deal worth ¥2-billion (around US$16.9 million). This means he will be with the organization at least through his 38th birthday, and likely for the remainder of his career. Management, among others, look forward to being able to retire his number at the end of what could be quite the illustrious career. Numbers may not compare favorably (two different leagues and in Ripken’s case, eras) but the shortstop has a chance to mean to the Tigers what Derek Jeter meant to the Yankees and what Cal Ripken meant to the Orioles. Both had long, productive careers with one organization, and were outstanding leaders and fan favourites. Toritani and Ripken are among the first names that come to mind when thinking of iron men. Currently, Toritani has played in 1466 straight games, which is still well short of Ripken’s 2632, but still very impressive. Should Tori play all regular season games the remainder of his contract, he would end his age 38 season at 2186 games. Either way, it is great to have him back with the organization!

On another note, I stumbled across his Facebook page, which I had no idea existed until Tigers Pride posted a French translation to Facebook. Here is an English translation, along with the original statement. Nothing too exciting, but worth a read.

ToritaniFacebook

Happy New Year!
At the end of last season, I decided to test the international free agent market. I thought long and hard about all the possibilities, and yesterday decided to return to the Hanshin Tigers.
I know my decision came kind of late and I caused a lot of fans and others some grief.
This season I will play with all my might and hope to share the joy of winning the pennant and Nippon Series with all the fans. I look forward to your continued support this year.
Right now I am in Okinawa doing voluntary training with Chiba Lotte’s Iguchi, as I have done every year. I’m doing all I can to get in shape for spring training!

Photo courtesy of sanspo.com

Photo courtesy of sanspo.com

In other news, the Toronto Blue Jays have re-signed 2B/SS Munenori Kawasaki to a minor-league contract for 2015. It appears he will be guaranteed $120,000 if he stays in the minors all season, but the split contract also means an increase to $700,000 if he gets called up from the farm team. Kawasaki is a huge fan favorite in Toronto and is also well-liked by his teammates. While he is not quite Takashi Toritani, the Blue Jays could end up with a decent Japanese 2B at a reasonable price after all.

Photo courtesy of sanspo.com

Photo courtesy of sanspo.com

Not only that, but the Jays are also apparently one of three teams showing interest in 41-year old legend Ichiro Suzuki. The Orioles and Marlins are also in the running. Should Ichiro join the Jays, it would be like a dream come true for Kawasaki, who lists Ichiro as his hero. The two played together briefly in Seattle in 2012 before Ichiro moved to the Yankees in a trade. Kawasaki was released at season’s end and joined the Blue Jays at the start of the 2013 season.

Two Birds with One Stone!

toritani2It appears all the hubbub about Takashi Toritani heading to the major leagues was for naught. Yahoo News (among others) reports that Toritani contacted the club late last night saying he has given up on the long negotiations with the Blue Jays and has decided to come back to the Hanshin Tigers for 2015 and beyond. Toritani had told the organization soon after the 2014 season ended that he wanted to test the overseas market, and received interest from some teams, but it appears the lone contract offer came from the Jays (who do not have a great relationship with Tori’s agent, Scott Boras). Other teams (such as the Padres and even the Mets and Royals) were rumoured to be interested as well, but nothing ever materialized from those camps.

This news means that the Tigers (a) do not need to think of some way to fill the hole he had potentially created; and (b) should not care in the least that they failed to sign Hiroyuki Nakajima. That’s what I call “killing two birds with one stone!” Looking forward to more great years of watching Toritani at Koshien!

A trip to Hanshin Department store

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope you had a great end to 2014 and have started 2015 well!

I went to the Hanshin Department store at Umeda today and made sure to stop by the Tigers store on the 8th floor!

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Being the practical guy that I am, I didn’t buy much. Just a foldable seat cushion, a Tigers notebook (for jotting down thoughts/ideas for the site) and the January edition of the monthly magazine.

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My new year’s resolution, by the way, is to make this the best site it can be this year. Last year was a trial run! Get ready for the real deal, folks! Looking forward to a great year of cheering on the Tigers with all of y’all!