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Japan Series shifts to Tokyo Dome for Game 3

by Jason Coskrey

Staff Writer

The Japan Series moved inside as both the Yomiuri Giants and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles held two-hour practice sessions on Monday at Tokyo Dome.

“It plays small, but you still have to hit the ball well,” the Eagles’ Andruw Jones said of the change of venue.

That won’t be the only change for Jones, who has served as his team’s primary designated hitter this season.

The next three games will be played under Central League rules, and the CL doesn’t use the DH, meaning the Eagles will have to deploy Jones in the field in order to keep his bat in the lineup.

The former 10-time (consecutively) MLB Gold Glove Award winner spent a bit of time working out in left field during practice, but wouldn’t reveal where he’d be for Game 3.

“It’ll be a game-time decision tomorrow,” Jones said.

He manned first base in CL parks during interleague play, noting that the last time he played in the outfield was in 2012 for the New York Yankees.

The teams split the first two games of the series, held outside at Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, with the defending champion Giants taking Game 1, and the Eagles tying the series at 1-1 on Sunday night.

“We’re really just coming in here with one thing in mind, and that’s to try and win the first game and go from there,” Eagles third baseman Casey McGehee said.

Manabu Mima, who threw a four-hit shutout against the Chiba Lotte Marines during the Pacific League Climax Series Final Stage, is scheduled to get the start for Rakuten on Tuesday.

Mima was 6-5 with a 4.12 ERA in 18 appearances during regular season. He lost his only start against Yomiuri, allowing six runs on six hits in one inning.

The Giants will counter with Toshiya Sugiuchi, who went 11-6 with a 3.35 ERA during the regular season.

Rakuten fed off the support of its fans in the first two games of the series, and the Eagles are prepared to have the most of what will be a large crowd rooting against them for the next three games.

“Fans are definitely diehard,” McGehee said. “I expect to probably not see too many Eagles fans, just because I’m sure Giants fans have bought up most of the tickets.

“But I’m looking forward to it.”