MIYAZAKI – Japan World Baseball Classic manager Koji Yamamoto got to see seven of the 33 players invited to the national team training camp in action on Monday in a Yomiuri Giants intrasquad game.
The Japan Series champs have eight players on the current Japan roster, but third baseman Shuichi Murata skipped the game with a finger injury.
“Everyone looked in good condition and ready to enter the training camp,” Yamamoto said.
Lefty Toshiya Sugiuchi, who was dogged by shoulder pain at the end of last season, took the mound and retired all three batters he faced in the first inning.
“I was somewhat nervous, but I feel relieved now,” said the 32-year-old, who is aiming to participate in his third straight WBC. “The results were good, so I’m satisfied.”
Right-hander Hirokazu Sawamura, who is also vying for one of the 28 WBC roster spots, threw two innings and retired all six batters he faced, including Japan captain Shinnosuke Abe and WBC hopefuls Hayato Sakamoto and Hisayoshi Chono.
Sawamura got off to an inauspicious start against Chono.
“My first three pitches got away from me, but I made a correction,” said Sawamura, who appeared unfazed by the predicament.
After Chono flied out to center, the right-hander simply found his rhythm and set one batter down after another.
While the Giants will pack up and move to Naha for the second phase of their spring training, the WBC hopefuls will remain in Miyazaki, where Yamamoto and his crew will take over the Giants’ training base starting Friday.
“The players who will represent Japan are going to come together,” Sawamura, the Central League’s 2011 Rookie of the Year, said. “If I can absorb what I can and raise my game as well.”