The sky is the limit for the Hawks, who will be looking to claim their third pennant in four seasons.

Softbank lost captain Hiroki Kokubo to retirement, but replaced him with Bryan LaHair, a 30-year-old infielder who was an All-Star last season for the Chicago Cubs. Second baseman Yuichi Honda gives the team a threat on the basepaths near the top of the order, and Seiichi Uchikawa and Nobuhiro Matsuda mix solid bats, with a little speed on the side, later down the line. Wily Mo Pena hit .280, with 21 home runs and 76 RBIs in his first NPB season and could be better with a year in Japan under his belt, much to the chagrin of the rest of the Pa. League.

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