NAGOYA — It isn’t too difficult to imagine how much of a privilege it is to play in a Japan Series.
And, of course, the stadiums are jam-packed, including more reporters and TV cameras on the field and in the press box than during a typical regular-season game.
But the players may not be as fired up as the fans and media. As a matter of fact, most of the players for this year’s Japan Series participants — the Chunichi Dragons and Chiba Lotte Marines — appeared just as relaxed as they were during the regular season.
“I’m feeling more calm than I expected I would be,” Marines infielder and captain Tsuyoshi Nishioka said before Game 1 of the 2010 Japan Series at Nagoya Dome on Saturday.
“We came up here as the third-seeded team and have nothing to lose. We’re going to just do our best, not being afraid of anything.”
Asked if he has any jitters about playing against a team Chiba Lotte faced for only two games at Nagoya Dome during interleague play, Nishioka said it doesn’t really bother him and his teammates.
“We don’t really care about those things,” Nishioka, the Pacific League batting champion at .346 this season, said with a smile. “The whole thing looks a bit blue (the Dragons’ color), but I barely feel that.”
Chunichi’s Naomichi Donoue had similar emotions before Game 1. Making his first Japan Series appearance, Donoue also said that he’d be approach the game in the same way that he normally does.
“I don’t feel too different from when I was in the Climax Series,” Donoue said.
The 22-year-old infielder, who appeared in a career-high 82 games in 2010, said that he appreciates that he has an opportunity that not many players can earn.
“I didn’t contribute to the team at all in the last series (CS final stage against the Yomiuri Giants),” Donoue said. “In that respect, I’d like to do something for the team. Yet I’m not too excited.”
Meanwhile, Dragons cleanup hitter Kazuhiro Wada had a mild smile as he wrapped up his batting practice.
The 38-year-old outfielder said that any team would only look for Ws and it doesn’t matter how it plays in the Japan Series.
“No matter how we play, it’ll be fine with us as long as we get four wins in the end,” Wada concluded with a smile.
Nakajima speaks out
TOKOROZAWA , Saitama Pref. (Kyodo) Seibu Lions shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima said Saturday he has not given up on moving to the major leagues through the posting system this off-season.
A day after senior Seibu official Kosuke Maeda’s announcement that Nakajima has agreed to stay for 2011, the six-time All-Star said, “I haven’t accepted anything. I’m not a free agent, so I’m not in a position to make the final decision. But I haven’t given up yet.”
“I thought the club would post me this off-season,” Nakajima added. “It’s just hard to go on.”
Nakamjima, who batted second in the order in Japan’s 2009 World Baseball Classic-winning campaign, said the Seibu front office showed a positive stance in last year’s off-season talks toward his move to the majors via the posting system.
The 28-year-old does not become an international free agent until 2012 at the earliest.
Nakajima hit .314 with 20 homers and 93 RBIs in 130 games this past season for second-place Seibu.
He is a career .302 hitter with 133 home runs and 564 RBIs in nine years, all with the Lions.