Hanshin Tigers third baseman Howard Battle began the 2000 Japan pro baseball season on a 15-game winning streak, and team manager Katsuya Nomura is probably wondering why he sent the former Atlanta Braves player to the farm team following the spring exhibition schedule.

Nomura, known for making quick (often negative) judgments about new foreign players, apparently decided he didn't like Battle as a player. Press comments indicated Nomura saw his new infielder as overweight, a poor fielder and a boom-or-bust hitter who might hit some home runs but would also strike out too often.

Thus, Battle began the regular season on the Tigers of the Western League. The WL Tigers burst into life by winning their first 10 games, while the parent Hanshin club got off to a poor start in the Central League. Then Nomura promoted Battle to the varsity April 14, and the player responded with two hits in a win over defending Central League champions the Chunichi Dragons.