The rosters for this summer’s All-Star Series were fleshed out on Monday as Central League manager Tatsunori Hara and Pacific League skipper Hideki Kuriyama named 33 players between them on Monday for the three-game series starting on July 19.
“No matter what, I want to win the All-Star games. I have to make sure to think about ensuring players don’t get hurt,” said Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters manager Kuriyama at Tokyo Dome prior to a game against the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. “The Pacific League has a lot of great players, and I want everyone to know who they are.”
Each manager added 11 pitchers to those picked by the players and fans. Hara, the Yomiuri Giants skipper, named eight starting pitchers, including four rookie right-handers: The Hanshin Tigers’ Shintaro Fujinami, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows’ Yasuhiro Ogawa, whose eight wins leads the CL, the Yokohama BayStars’ Kazuki Mishima and Hara’s nephew from the Giants, Tomoyuki Sugano.
Kuriyama added five starters and six relievers, although Fighters rookie Shohei Otani, voted to the team by fans as an outfielder despite being one of Nippon Ham’s starters, is not among the PL starters.
One of the players added to the PL squad on Monday was Hawks outfielder Yuya Hasegawa, the league’s batting leader and this year’s interleague MVP.
“The nerves you feel at an All-Star game are different from the regular season,” said Hasegawa, who will be making his second appearance in the summer series.
“It’s not the time yet to start thinking about the games, but as they get close, I know I’m going to feel really happy. When the games start, I can’t be anything but the player I am, so I want to play the same way I do in the regular season.”
While 17 players will be making their All-Star debuts, Hara picked milestone-making catcher Motonobu Tanishige of the Chunichi Dragons, who will be making his 11th appearance for the CL, the most on either squad.
“Considering my age, this is probably going to be my last chance, so I intend to enjoy it,” said the 42-year-old who reached 2,000 hits earlier this season, and on Sunday took over the No. 2 spot in career games played.
“At first I thought, ‘Am I really worthy of this?’ ” he said. “But I’m used to it now.”
Neither manager added a foreign player to the roster, with Kuriyama skipping his own designated hitter with the Fighters, Michel Abreu, who was second in the PL in home runs and third in RBIs before Nippon Ham’s game against Softbank.
The final player on each team’s 32-man roster will be decided by Internet ballot and announced on July 10.