Japan’s players union calls for commissioner Kato to step down after ball scandal

Japan’s players union has called for the resignation of Nippon Professional Baseball’s commissioner following revelations that a new official ball was introduced this season without notifying players.

Toru Matsubara, the secretary general of the Japan Professional Baseball Players Association, submitted a document to NPB saying commissioner Ryozo Kato should resign and be replaced by someone who can demonstrate leadership.

With almost half the season played, NPB acknowledged this month for the first time that a new ball was being used. The new, livelier ball has resulted in a sharp increase in the number of home runs.

The 71-year-old Kato, a former Japanese ambassador to the United States, said he didn’t know the ball had been changed.

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Hideki Matsui Retires

Japanese slugger Hideki Matsui, the Most Valuable Player of the 2009 World Series, announced his retirement today.

Matsui, 38, played professional baseball for 20 years – starring in Japan for a decade before embarking on a 10-year career in the US Major Leagues.

He was quick to make his mark with the venerable New York Yankees, becoming the first player in club history to hit a grand slam in his Yankees debut – against Minnesota on April 8, 2003.

Matsui played for three different clubs over the last three seasons, spending 2010 with the Angels, 2011 with Oakland and last season with Tampa Bay.


Ichiro Suzuki to be a Yankee

In their recent search for help in the outfield, the Yankees explored several modest options that might have created a small ripple inside the world of baseball. Instead, they made a move that surprised two continents and helped reinvigorate their pursuit of a 28th World Series title.

With a little more than two months remaining in the season, the Yankees acquired Ichiro Suzuki, who became the first Japan-born position player in the majors when he joined the Mariners in 2001, when he was named the rookie of the year and the Most Valuable Player.

Before Monday’s game between the two teams at Safeco Field, the Yankees sent minor league pitchers D. J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar to the Mariners for Suzuki , whose five-year, $90 million contract expires after this season. The Yankees will also receive cash considerations to offset the financial commitment.

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Ripken to visit Japan as US sports ambassador

From Nov. 8-16, former Baltimore Orioles star Cal Ripken Jr. will lead baseball and softball clinics in Japan as part of his upcoming nine-day trip as a sports diplomat on behalf of the U.S. State Department.

Ripken will be joined by former Orioles teammate Brady Anderson at the clinics in Tokyo, Takarazuka, Kyoto and Ofunato, a city still recovering from the March earthquake and tsunami.

Japanese baseball great Sachio Kinugasa will also join the pair in Tokyo and Ofunato.

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Oakland As, Seattle Mariners to open 2012 season in Japan

The Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics will open next season in Japan with a two-game series at the Tokyo Dome on March 28 and 29.Seattle and Oakland had been scheduled to play there in March 2003, but the series was scrapped because of the threat of war in Iraq. The As will be the home team in both games, the commissioners office said Wednesday.

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Japan’s Hisashi Iwakuma aims at MLB free agency

A Japanese starting pitcher who nearly joined a Major League team last winter has hired a new agent ahead of this offseason, when he’s expected to once again be a sought-after arm.

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported that Hisashi Iwakuma, a 30-year-old righty, has hired Paul Cobbe of Sosnick-Cobbe Sports to be his agent. The Oakland A’s paid $19.1 million to negotiate with Iwakuma last winter, but Iwakuma’s former agent, Don Nomura, and the A’s could not reach a deal. Oakland’s posting fee was returned.

Nomura reported in December that Oakland had offered Iwakuma a deal comparable in salary to what Iwakuma was making in Japan’s Pacific League, about four years and $15.25 million.

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Ex-Yankee Hideki Irabu Found Dead in Possible Suicide

Hideki Irabu, the former Yankees pitcher who struggled to live up to grand expectations after coming over from Japan, was found dead in Los Angeles on Thursday. He was 42. Police are investigating Irabu’s death as a possible suicide, according to various reports. Irabu came to the United States in 1997 billed as one of Japan’s premier right-handed pitchers. The Padres owned his rights, but Irabu refused to play for any team but the Yankees. San Diego traded him to the Yankees, who signed him to a four-year, $12.8 million contract.

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Ichiro ties Pete Rose’s record for most 200-hit seasons

Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki extended his major league record for consecutive 200-hit seasons to 10 after going 2-for-5 against the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.

Ichiro, who came into the game with 198 hits, also tied Pete Rose for the most career 200-hit seasons after hitting a double down the left field line in the third inning and singling up the middle in the fifth.

The 10-time All-Star began the streak in his rookie year in the major leagues in 2001. He said he is comfortable with the change in the way he has been treated by the media and people surrounding him in the process.

via Ichiro ties Rose’s record for most 200-hit seasons.