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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

March 25, 2012 at 8:05 AM

Taking a look at baseball, Japanese-style, starting with the teenagers

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Well, we saw what can happen to a Major League team last night when the Mariners came in looking a little ragged and got their lunch handed to them, then taken away and eaten by the Hanshin Tigers, 5-1. Yes, they do know how to play baseball in Japan and there isn’t very much separating the talent level between the Major Leagues and the Nippon Professional Baseball League.
The Oakland Athletics, by the way, defeated the Yomiuri Giants 5-0 in the nightcap. Seatte plays the Giants in the Monday night game here, which will be in the middle of the night for you folks back in Seattle. Don’t worry, the game isn’t on radio or TV, so unless you follow the best blog in North America and Asia right here, don’t bother staying up.
If you want a snapshot at how big the game of baseball is in Japan, starting at a young age, read my feature in today’s Sunday Times. In it, I describe the national high school invitational tournament, going on all this week at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Japan, about 260 miles from Tokyo. I was fortunate to take in some of the action here on Saturday morning, otherwise known as Friday afternoon to most of you.
And then, if the words and photos weren’t enough, grab a look at the video up above. Almost like being there and you don’t have to freeze your tail off, though you can hear the wind blasts in the video and just about feel the chill.


Anyhow, for those wondering about the Tigers loss, the Mariners did see a few positive signs. Casper Wells had the home run and you’d like to see him flash more of that power if you’re the Mariners.
The two guys at the post-game press conference, Miguel Olivo and Munenori Kawasaki looked pretty good at the plate.
Olivo had two hits and a walk. You’ll remember, getting on-base last year wasn’t exactly his strong suit, so you’d hope this sort of thing continues once the regular season begins. I liked the shutout inning tossed by Erasmo Ramirez, though Tom Wilhelmsen got hit hard in the eighth. That bullpen has to be a concern. The veterans brought in by the team didn’t pan out, other than George Sherrill, who hasn’t had a good spring but rarely does. So, we’ll see with him. But the team will be counting on guys like Wilhelmsen and Shawn Kelley to get it done this year.
How about Ramirez? Maybe. Not sure what else he has to do to make the team. He should make it, simply because he can get guys out. Not everyone in that bullpen can say the same so far.
As for Kawasaki, it was nice to see him get the double. He continues to surprise folks by hitting the ball a lot harder than he was reputed to do before he came over from Japan this spring.

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Kawasaki even showed off his new English skills for the Japanese media at the post-game press conference, as you can see in the video above.
I’ll be accompanying Kawasaki and Michael Saunders out to a public appearance later today and it should be a madhouse.

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