Fall camp has wrapped up now with Tatsunami and co. holding the reigns for the first time. There were a few interesting stories to come our of camp, but the overall theme seems to be "aim high" and instill players with confidence. Case in point being the encouragement to Yota Kyoda that he could be a "triple 3" player. Much encouragement was given to Takaya Ishikawa as well as someone who could hit 40 homers in a season. Overall, the messages have been very positive and some of the new techniques passed on by the new coaching staff seem to have been a hit. Dayan Viciedo was also on the receiving end of some tips to change his approach to hit for more power.
Missing from the camp however were new 1-gun pitching coaches, Eiji Ochiai and Akinori Otsuka. 2-gun coach, Takashi Ogasawara needed to step in as the "on the ground" coach, but Ochiai had sent on instructions from Korea. Ochiai's KBO team, the Samsung Lions had playoff commitments this year which has delayed Ochiai's arrival. Otsuka meanwhile has been sent to the Dominical Republic to scout new players. Possible international signings however have been put on the back burner while the world sorts out the severity of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
In awards news, the Golden Gloves were announced on Thursday with the Dragons capturing three different positions. Dayan Viciedo (1st Base), Yuya Yanagi (Pitcher) and Yohei Oshima (Outfield) all picked up ther 2nd, 1st and 9th awards respectively. Oshima's 9th golden glove is a club record.
Without further ado however, let's skip to some of the pick-up points of the past few weeks:
- The Dragons are kicking the tires on former Marines hurler, Yuta Omine. Omine was released through the senryokugai notices and is being looked at for a development contract signing. The logic seems to be that the farm needs an experience innings eater now that Yamai has retired.
- Former manager, Tsuyoshi Yoda has been welcomed back to the club as an "executive advisor" for whatever that means. The Dragons front office appear to have wanted to keep Yoda around either for his pitching nous or perhaps for his connections across baseball in Japan. Either way, it is not a full-time role but it keeps Yoda in the Dragons fold.
- Katsuki Matayoshi has elected for free agency being the first former independent leaguer to do so. The Hawks, Baystars and Buffaloes are said to be the most interested in his services with the Dragons leaving an offer on the table should Matayoshi want a return.
- Ariel Martinez became the first foreign player ever to join fall camp for the Dragons. The catcher welcomed his family to Japan not long before the start of camp and showed his wares to challenge for a starting position next year. Tatsunami has already ear-marked Ariel for a possible transition to left-field to which the player is amenable. He has since headed back to Cuba for the off-season.
- During training, the Dragons official YouTube channel blew up. Some interesting videos to watch if you've got some spare time.
- The smallest men on the team, Keisuke Tanimoto and Takumi Yamamoto will be training together in the off-season. Yamamoto has previously earmarked Tanimoto as someone he wanted to learn from given their comparable height.
- Akira Neo will be in the mix for outfield spots next season as Tatsunami indicates short-stop is perhaps a bit beyond him at the moment. While recently retired, Atsushi Fujii called out Neo that his hitting style "won't work", Neo has indicated a willingness to tear it all down and start again to ensure his longevity as a professional.
- Under Eiji Ochiai's instructions to hold 1-hour bullpen sessions per pitcher, the boys have gone ham throwing an enormous amount of pitches. Takumi Yamamoto threw down 380 pitches in a session while Hiroto Takahashi threw a PB of 246 pitches in his bullpen session. The main question however is, why?