Tomoyuki Sugano returned to Japan recently after spending several days training in Hawaii. He told reporters at Narita Airport that his workouts yielded great results and allowed that "my condition is the best it's been in three years."

The Giants fell short of winning the pennant and fans will be hoping for a big year out of their ace pitcher to help reclaim it. Sugano himself is likely hoping to erase the taste of the first losing season of his three-year career.

Former Giants pitcher Yukinaga Maeda said, in an article about Sugano for Tokyo Sports, that an ace pitcher should win at least 15 games — coincidentally the minimum number of victories listed as one of the selection criteria for the Sawamura Award, which a Yomiuri pitcher hasn't won since Koji Uehara earned his second in 2002.