SAPPORO – The Pacific League’s Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters will hold part of their spring training camp next year in Peoria, Arizona, the mega-sports complex used by the San Diego Padres, the club announced Monday.
In a tie-up with the Padres, the Fighters will use the lavish facilities from Feb. 1 until the middle of the month before moving to their usual base in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture. Nippon Ham last held camp overseas in 1987.
The Chiba Lotte Marines were the last Japanese team to conduct an overseas camp when they trained in Australia in 2007.
“The change to a new environment will act as a stimulus that will strengthen the team. We made this decision to promote development in each and every player,” said Fighters club president Kenso Takeda.
The Fighters have been pushing to renovate their rundown stadium in Nago, but with little hope the facility will receive an upgrade anytime soon, the team decided on using the Peoria Sports Complex.
Fighters ace Shohei Otani, who visited an elementary school the same day in Sapporo, said, “It will be my first camp outside of Japan so I am very excited.”