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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Jose Lopez headed to Japan’s Yomiuri Giants

Former All-Star infielder Jose Lopez is headed to Japan.

He has signed with the Yomiuri Giants of the Central League, the country’s most popular team and winner of the 2012 Japan Series. According to Nikkan Sports, he agreed to a one-year deal worth $911,000.

The 29-year-old Lopez has spent nine seasons in the majors and was an All-Star with Seattle in 2006. He also has played for the Chicago White Sox, Colorado, Florida and Cleveland. He has a career .262 average with 92 home runs and 480 RBIs.

Lopez played in 15 games last season for Chicago, spending most of the season in the International League. He was member of Venezuela’s team at the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

Japan Wins 12-2 over Tennessee for Little League World Series Title

Arms outstretched in the air with a smile from ear-to-ear, Noriatsu Osaka couldn’t contain his glee.

Neither could his teammates from Tokyo after Osaka’s third home run of the game put an exclamation point on Japan’s 12-2 victory over Tennessee in five innings in the Little League World Series title game Sunday.

The 12-year-old Osaka added a triple for good measure, too, to top off his 4-for-4 afternoon. In a symbolic gesture, Japan’s players jogged the traditional postgame victory lap carrying the flags for both their home country and the United States.

“We had such a great time in Pennsylvania and we really played a good game today. It was kind of a, `Thanks,”‘ Osaka said through an interpreter.

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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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