SAMURAI JAPAN Top Team manager Hiroki Kokubo has visited 12 NPB baseball teams' training camps from February 1(Wed) as the opening of "2017 WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC (WBC)™" 1st round at Tokyo Dome on March 7(Tue) is fast approaching. The last visit was Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters' second-stage training camp at Nago municipal stadium in Nago city, Okinawa, on February 14.
Manager Kokubo spent time mainly observing Shota Ohno, the only player among WBC players who did his first-stage training camp in Peoria, Arizona, in United States while pitching coach Hiroshi Gondoh checked Hirotoshi Masui and Naoki Miyanishi's pitching practice in the bull pen. He watched batting practice behind the cage and looked carefully Sho Nakata(batting fourth) and Ohno(batting fifth) from 1:00 p.m in a 5-inning intra-squad game.
After the game manager Kokubo took questions from the media commenting on Ohno who hit two singles to the right direction. He praised, "if he can do that much, he would be a player whose role is keep the offense going. I see that he got himself into good physical condition earlier than usual," and as of his framing pitches(3 scoreless innings), he expected, "I think he experienced warm-up games last November, so he'll feel at ease playing this time".
As of Nakata whom he has already checked at the farm system's Kunigami training camp on February 11, he showed his everlasting trust again, "I'm only talking about preventing overwork. I talked to manager Kuriyama about his condition, and he was hitting balls without forcefulness and looked promising in the intra-squad game."
In the end manager Kokubo said,"with his purpose set, he spent his off-season properly and as a whole got himself into good condition. I hope he will reach the day of convening without injury from now on," summing up his final check visiting 13 training camps for 14 days.
The road to taking the world champions back will start with "SAMURAI JAPAN Training Camp" in KIRISHIMA Sun Marine Stadium Miyazaki in Miyazaki city, Miyazaki, from February 23(Thur) to 26th(Mon) including "2017 SAMURAI JAPAN Opening Matches (against Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks)" at 13:00 on February 25(Sun), and the momentum is increasing.
Manager Kubo encourages visit Kazuhisa Makita pitcher, Shogo Akiyama a little in campground of Saitama Seibu
Manager Kokubo visits Yomiuri Giants' training camp, leaving 'the center of pitching staff' in pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano's hands
Ready to take back the world champions - 2017 SAMURAI JAPAN starts off as Manager Kokubo visits Hiroshima Toyo Carp training camp
2017 WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC™
March 7(Tue) - 11(Sat), 2017
Tuesday, March 7, 2017 19:00 Japan 11-6 Cuba
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 19:00 Australia 1-4 Japan
Friday, March 10, 2017 19:00 Japan 7-1 China
Sunday, March 12, 2017 19:00 Netherlands 6-8 Japan
Tuesday, March 14, 2017 19:00 Japan 8-5 Cuba
Wednesday, March 15, 2017 19:00 Japan 8-3 Israel
The Tuesday, March 21, 2017 18:00 Japan 1-2 United States
Wednesday, March 22, 2017 18:00 (Japan time 23rd 10:00) Puerto Rico vs. the United States
Gocheok Sky Dome
WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC™
March 18 13:05 (Japan time 19th 5:05) Chicago Cubs 6-4 Japan
March 19 13:05 (Japan time 20th 5:05) Los Angeles Dodgers 3x-2 Japan
Asahi Super Dry Presents SAMURAI JAPAN Send-off Matches