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Years from now, when fans look back at the 2011 NPB season, it should be noted somewhere that Hanshin Tigers third baseman Takahiro Arai’s biggest hit came before the season, when the Central League finally relented and shifted its season openers to April 12.

No matter what Arai accomplishes this year, playing the leading role in helping to save CL leaders from themselves will go down as his most important contribution of the year.

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