Seiya Suzuki has gotten his fair share of playing time for the Hiroshima Carp this season, but he’s not taking that for granted. Suzuki knows success will bring him even more opportunities, so the 21-year old doesn’t want to waste a single chance to show what he can do.
“First of all, I have to play well enough to get a regular position,” Suzuki told The Japan Times. “I want to make sure I’m able to take advantage of opportunities when they come. Also, If I’m injured, I won’t be able to take the chance, so I want to really make sure I don’t get hurt.”
Suzuki made his season debut on April 5, and has appeared in 23 games for Hiroshima. He’s had some success, with seven multi-hit games, including a two-homer performance against the Tokyo Yakult Swallows on April 26.
So far, Suzuki, who had a hot streak earlier in year, is hitting just .250, but has seven doubles, a pair of triples and three homers.
“I haven’t been doing anything special,” Suzuki said. “I tend to lean forward when the ball is coming, so I’ve been trying to fix that. If you wait until the ball gets a little deeper, you can have more success batting. I can do that sometimes during the game, and when I can, I tend to get hits even when I don’t hit the ball perfectly.”
He’s making small adjustments to his approach at the plate, hopeful of getting the most out of each at-bat.
“In practice, I’ve been conscious about using my right leg as the base,” Suzuki said. “I try to use that in games. If I can keep my weight on my axis, then I can get a good swing.”
Currently in his fourth year, Suzuki has played little more than the equivalent of one entire season on the ichi-gun level, having appeared in 165 games. Opportunities were scarce in his first two seasons, and he played in a career-high 97 (out of 143) games last year.
Suzuki has done a decent job of giving himself a chance by putting the ball in play and is always on the lookout for ways to improve.
“I want to quickly figure out what I need to do to be effective while I’m playing,” he said. “I’m searching for these things everyday.”
Doing it all: Hokkaido Nippon Ham star Shohei Otani was turning heads in the batter’s box during the spring, and the two-way star is still doing it a little more than a month into the regular season.
Otani hit home runs against the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks during games on Wednesday and Thursday last week, and currently has five in 58 plate appearances. That equals his total of a year ago, in 119 plate appearances, and is halfway to the career-high of 10 he set in 234 trips to the plate in 2014, the same year he also won 11 games as a starting pitcher.
Overall, Otani is hitting .308 with three doubles and 12 RBIs.
The young star hit the weights over the offseason, adding more muscle to his frame, and his early output might be the fruits of that labor. Of Otani’s five homers, four have been of the opposite-field variety.
As a pitcher, Otani, who allowed four runs in a loss on Sunday, is 1-3 with a 3.02 ERA and 58 strike outs in 50⅔ innings on the mound.
Tick tock: The average length of games in the Central League was 3 hours, 16 minutes in April, NPB announced last week. Nine-inning contests clocked in at 3:11 over that span. Both totals are lower than the 2015 averages of 3:16 for all games and 3:11 in nine-inning games.
Conversely, Pacific League games were slight longer than they were in 2015, with a 3:22 average for all games and 3:16 for contests finished after nine innings. Both averages are one minute longer than in 2015.