• Kyodo


Washington Nationals right-hander Tomokazu Ohka kicked off his seventh major-league season in a new uniform Thursday as the pitchers and catchers of 10 major-league teams opened spring training in Florida and Arizona.

News photoShingo Takatsu of the Chicago White Sox
throws at spring training Thursday as the team’s pitching
coach Don Cooper looks on.

At Camp Robinson, Ohka, who was limited to three wins last season due to a right wrist fracture, compared with 13 and 10 in 2002 and 2003, put on his red practice jersey with a D.C. logo on the front after having worn the blue Montreal Expos uniform the past four years.

“I don’t feel any different,” said Ohka, who spent almost three hours jogging, batting, playing catch and practicing relay throws ahead of Friday’s pitching session.

In Tucson, Ariz., Chicago White Sox right-hander Shingo Takatsu threw 34 pitches in a bullpen session.

In Peoria, Ariz., Shigetoshi Hasegawa and Masao Kida spent time in the bullpen on the opening day of training for the Seattle Mariners.

Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki and New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui will join their teammates after Tuesday, as will all other position players, but New York Mets infielder Kazuo Matsui got a head start by taking part in independent training with younger Mets players in Port St. Lucie.

Of the 16 Japanese players taking part in major-league spring training this year, four will be making their debut — Tadahito Iguchi (White Sox), Norihiro Nakamura (Los Angeles Dodgers), Keiichi Yabu (Oakland Athletics) and Denney Tomori (Boston Red Sox).

Island opener April 29

TAKAMATSU, Kagawa Pref. (Kyodo) The new independent baseball league on the island of Shikoku will begin its inaugural season April 29 and play a total of 180 games this year, sources close to the league said Friday.

The Ehime Mandarine Pirates and the Kochi Fighting Dogs will square off in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, in the season opener of the Shikoku Island League, aimed at young talent aspiring to play as full-fledged professionals.

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