TOKOROZAWA, SAITAMA PREF. – New Oakland Athletics’ shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima practiced using a major league ball on Monday as he prepares for his first season in the big leagues.
“I just plan to take it one step at a time without thinking too much about targets,” said the 30-year-old longtime Seibu Lions star, who worked out at his former club’s indoor facility for an hour and a half on a snowy day in Saitama Prefecture.
Nakajima, who has long desired to test himself in the majors, has been preparing for the challenge by watching video of big leaguers and practicing with official major league balls, which differ in several ways from those used in NPB.
While a typical pre-camp training regimen in Japan includes running distances to build up the lower body, Nakajima has chosen to structure his practices around the way he’ll have to move in actual games.
“I am really targeting just those skills used for baseball,” he said, while admitting he still expects to be challenged by an unfamiliar practice regimen when he goes abroad.
“I am not anxious. Over there they have their ways of doing things, and I want to try them out.”
Nakajima plans to leave for the United States at the end of this month and will attend a team function in Oakland before going to the A’s camp in Arizona.
Taiwan selects Yangs
The brothers Yang, All-Star outfielder Yang Dai-kang of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters and his older brother Yang Yao-hsun of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, were named on Monday to Taiwan’s roster for the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
The 25-year-old Dai-kang won his first PL Golden Glove last season, when he was one of the top performers in his first All-Star Series. His brother, a southpaw who will turn 30 this month, posted a 1.48 ERA in 42⅔ innings last year and threw his first career shutout. Yao-hsun was the winning pitcher on Nov. 18, when Taiwan defeated New Zealand 9-0 to book its spot in the WBC tournament in March.
They are joined on Taiwan’s roster by Yomiuri Giants right-hander Lin Yi-hao and Yokohama BayStars lefty Wang I-cheng, neither of whom has pitched more than six games at the top level.
Taiwan, which will host WBC Pool B in Taichung starting on March 2, also named righty Wang Chien-ming, who has a career record of 61-32 in the big leagues.
Also in Pool B are Australia, the Netherlands and 2009 runnerup South Korea. The top two teams from this group will advance to the second round Pool 1, which starts on March 8 at Tokyo Dome.
Lee Dae Ho, who won a PL Best IX Award at first base last year for the Orix Buffaloes, has already been named to South Korea’s squad, as has former Yomiuri and Chiba Lotte Marine first baseman Lee Seung Yeop. New Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles acquisition Andruw Jones was originally one of two players on the Netherlands’ roster.