• Kyodo


Chunichi Dragons lefty Hitoki Iwase has broken the middle toe of his left foot and may not be ready to pitch by the April 2 Central League season opener, baseball sources said Saturday.

It is unclear when Iwase sustained the injury, but sources close to the 29-year-old, who is also a strong candidate for the national team that will represent Japan at this summer’s Olympics in Athens, said he fell while taking a bath at home earlier this week.

CHIBA (Kyodo) Kazuya Fukuura hit a grand slam in the third inning and drove in five runs on Saturday as the Lotte Marines romped to an 11-2 victory over the Seibu Lions in a preseason game. In Okazaki Stadium in Aichi Prefecture, the Chunichi Dragons topped the Orix BlueWave 11-6 as Chunichi rookie Koji Nakamura hit a two-run homer to highlight a five-run outburst in the seventh inning. Hiroki Kuroda, in his first outing for Hiroshima this spring, pitched three-run ball in three innings at Onomichi Stadium in Hiroshima Prefecture as the Hiroshima Carp and the Daiei Hawks played to a 6-6 tie. In other games, the Hanshin Tigers edged the Yakult Swallows 8-6, the Yomiuri Giants beat the Kintetsu Buffaloes 8-4 and the Nippon Ham Fighters edged the Yokohama BayStars 6-4.

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