• Kyodo


Ichiro Suzuki showed off his arm in right field and Daisuke Matsuzaka threw a bullpen session as 33 Japanese players started a weeklong camp Monday in preparation for the second World Baseball Classic.

Despite being a weekday, some 40,000 fans hoping for a repeat of the inaugural title in 2006 gathered at Sun Marine Stadium in Miyazaki.

Position players went through fielding and batting practice, while all 15 pitchers except Softbank Hawks left-hander Toshiya Sugiuchi threw in the bullpen.

Japan manager Tatsunori Hara is encouraging competition within the team, which will have its roster reduced to the final 28 on Feb. 25.

The team is scheduled to play exhibition games against the Yomiuri Giants, who have also been holding spring training in the southwestern city, on the final two days of the camp.

“Those are not called ‘team selection matches,’ but they do serve that purpose,” Hara, a former Giants star, said.

Four more exhibition games are scheduled for Japan, two against Australia on Feb. 24-25 at Kyocera Dome and one each against the 2008 Japan Series champion Seibu Lions on Feb. 28 and the Giants the following day at Tokyo Dome.

Japan takes on China in the tournament opener at Tokyo Dome on March 5. The WBC final will be held at Dodger Stadium on March 23.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.