Samurai Japan skipper Kokubo promotes team’s new uniforms for WBC, stays mum about roster

by

Staff Writer

Hiroki Kokubo didn’t drop any hints about who would be on the Samurai Japan team for the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He did, however, help reveal what they would be wearing.

Samurai Japan unveiled the national team uniforms for the tournament during a news conference at the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame on Friday afternoon.

The design is similar to what has been worn by Japan teams (the senior squad, women’s squad, etc.) since the national team system was revamped in 2013. The home and away versions each feature thin, gold pinstriping and have “Japan” written across the chest in blue letters with a gold border. A Japanese flag is on the right sleeve, and a gold stripe runs across the bottom of both sleeves. The home version is white and the away uniform is dark blue, as in past years.

Japan will debut its new uniforms during four exhibition games at Tokyo Dome in November, when Samurai Japan is scheduled to play two games apiece against Mexico and the Netherlands.

As for who will be wearing these uniforms, Kokubo didn’t reveal much, but said he’s been keeping track of everything that’s happened this season.

“The Central League was finished quickly, the winning team is already decided,” Kokubo said. “There’s an amazing battle going on in the Pacific League. Right now, the players are thinking about their own situations and doing what they can to win.

“As for my job, first of all, there will probably be players from the Climax Series among with the other candidates who are called up. We will have to bring them all together quickly and begin our preparations.”

Kokubo’s hiring was the centerpiece of the national team overhaul following the team’s semifinal loss at the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Japan had won the previous two editions of the tournament. Kokubo was formally hired in October of that year and next year’s WBC will mark the end of a long journey for the former star player who had never managed when he took over the Japan team.