SENDAI – The Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles visited their quake-hit hometown on Thursday for the first time since a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck northeastern Japan on March 11.
“To be honest, I debated whether or not to return to Sendai just days before opening day, but now I hope, by going there, the whole team will be determined to play hard for people in the Tohoku region,” manager Senichi Hoshino said after practice at Koshien Stadium earlier in the day.
The team flew from Osaka to Yamagata and then arrived in Sendai by bus as Sendai airport has been closed since being flooded by quake-triggered tsunami waves.
Hoshino and head coach Koichi Tabuchi went on to visit a junior high school in Sendai, one of the shelters for the quake and tsunami victims.
Hoshino and players will go to more shelters in Miyagi Prefecture on Friday.
The team is scheduled to travel to Chiba on Friday night to prepare for the start of the season Tuesday against the Japan Series champion Chiba Lotte Marines.