On May 23, Hotaka Yamakawa, 31, was arrested by the Azabu Police Station of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department on suspicion of forcible sexual intercourse with a female acquaintance. The team, without its main gun, is in last place in the Pacific League with a debt of 13 games. Before the season, there were some who thought the team was a dark horse, praising its pitching ability as one of the best in the league, but there was no hope for the team to advance to the top of the standings.
The aftermath of the Yamakawa incident has cast a shadow over the atmosphere within the team. An alumnus of the team who has seen the team practice at the farm facility noted, “The team is practically in a state of flux because of the sexual scandal.
Yamakawa, who is practically banned from the team due to a sexual scandal, would have been better off if he had been under house arrest, but he is working at the indoor practice field where he can be easily seen. The atmosphere couldn’t be better.”
Another source in the baseball world revealed, “Yamakawa has been talking to women and taking drinks for him.
The junior players who were calling on women and arranging drinking parties for Yamakawa must be worried that they might be under investigation as well.
It is said that several of the players involved have experience playing for the first team, and that the psychological impact of the investigation may have affected their play in some way.
Regardless of whether or not the Yamakawa incident occurred, the club has also had some setbacks this season in the development of its lineup in preparation for the arrival of new manager Kazuo Matsui (47). Catcher Tomoya Mori, 27, a regular catcher and key hitter, left for the Orix of the same league as a free agent. The team planned to replace him with outfielder Kensuke Kondo (29), who had declared himself an FA from Nippon Ham, but they were defeated by SoftBank’s financial strength.
The team was unable to fill the void left by Mori, and its captain and regular starter, infielder Sousuke Genda (30), was out for about two months after the season opener due to a broken right pinky finger suffered in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March.
Furthermore, the team’s reinforcements from outside the country have also proved to be a failure. Infielder David MacKinnon (30) is still in good shape with a .243 batting average, seven home runs, and 24 runs batted in. Another outfielder, Mark Payton (31), injured his right leg when he failed to catch a flying ball near the left field fence and landed on it against Rakuten on April 29. He was struck from the roster on April 30 and has not been seen by the first team since then. He was confirmed to have played in a game for the second team on May 21, but has not appeared in a game for a full month since then.
If reinforcements are not forthcoming, the only option is to make a trade with another team in Japan, but the attempts to negotiate a deal with a Tokyo-based Central League team during the interchange games fell through early on. The Orix and Nippon-Ham have been busy making trade deals with the Giants and Chunichi, respectively, while the other teams have been holding their hands tied.
The other teams want Seibu to have an abundance of relief pitchers. Obviously, Seibu must lack fielders who can hit long balls, but they are unwilling to give them up even in exchange for fielders. It’s not a trade.”
said a Central League team official, puzzling over the situation.
The team’s strength was not up to par at the start of the season, and with the unexpected departure of Yamakawa, the young players who should have had a chance to make their mark cannot hope to advance if they remain mentally unsteady. Matsui’s lack of experience as a coach can only be compensated for with more games, but the once great club may be plunging into a dark period.