Lions’ Kikuchi delivers heat in intrasquad contest


Seibu Lions lefty Yusei Kikuchi unleashed some high-velocity fastballs on Thursday when he touched 154 kph (95 mph) in an intrasquad game.

The 24-year-old Kikuchi allowed two hits and a run in three innings at the Lions spring training camp.

“I threw some good pitches, so now I want to improve my accuracy,” said Kikuchi, who went 9-10 last year with a career-high 122 strikeouts in 133 innings.

In his 71-pitch outing, Kikuchi got away from his customary 1-2, fastball-slider repertoire, using curves and change-ups at critical points. Kikuchi fanned six-time Pacific League home run king Takeya Nakamura on a change of pace.

“I was able to test things out. Next time I will be focused on results,” Kikuchi said.

Meanwhile, Lions right-hander Kazuhisa Makita threw his second bullpen in two days as he continues to rebound from a bout with influenza. The submarine-style hurler threw 35 pitches a day after throwing around 100.

“My release (point) was inconsistent, but the pitches weren’t that bad,” Makita said. “As much as possible, I want to go to the bullpen every day, throw around 100 pitches and build up my stamina.”