Interview with Nakamasa Mannami, NIHAM: Shinjo’s Words Awakened a Struggling Cannon | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Interview with Nakamasa Mannami, NIHAM: Shinjo’s Words Awakened a Struggling Cannon

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Finally a big breakthrough in his 5th year as a pro! This season he hit 25 home runs and was in contention for the title until the last game of the season!

Mannami Chusei was born in Tokyo in April ’00. He has a Congolese father and Japanese mother. In junior high school, he was a member of the track and field club while continuing to play baseball for the Higashinerima Senior High School. He throws right-handed and hits right-handed. He is 192 cm tall and weighs 96 kg.

I was numb,” he said. I had goose bumps as I rounded the bases.

Nakamasa Mannami, 23, of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, recalls one of his most memorable games, a game against Softbank on September 16. Mannami hit two homers, one to lead off the game and the other to end the game. With that momentum, he was in contention for the home run crown until the final game of the season, but missed out on the title by one run, 25 runs short of the top spot.

I don’t want to do it again,” he said. Eito Asamura (Rakuten) and four other players had the same number of homers, and the games continued to be tense, but I was the only one who didn’t win the title. I couldn’t live up to the expectations of those around me.

Nevertheless, in his fifth year as a pro, Mannami made his big breakthrough with a .265 batting average, 25 home runs, and 74 runs batted in, all career highs. We would like to look back on the life of this awakened cannonballer and the struggles he experienced in his baseball career (Mannami’s comments follow unless otherwise noted).

Mannami began playing baseball in the second grade, and chose Yokohama High School (Kanagawa Prefecture), a regular participant in the Koshien Tournament, as his school of choice, where he was on the bench from the spring of his first year and hit a huge shot off the back screen in the third round of the Kanagawa Prefecture Tournament against Shoyo High School in the summer of 2004 at Yokohama Stadium. In his sophomore year, however, he fell into an extreme slump for unknown reasons.

In the spring of his junior year, he was removed from the bench lineup and ordered to switch from living in the dormitory, where only regular players were allowed, to commuting home to school. My coach was always with me and helped me recover in the summer, but I think I was able to endure the adversity that followed because I experienced setbacks and failures from that time on.

Mannami was drafted fourth overall by Nichi-Ham in 1919 and hit a team-leading 14 home runs in his first year with the second team, but he was reminded of the difference in level between the pros and the pros.

I had some confidence in my long-ball ability, but my hitting was not consistent at all. I struck out every game (122 strikeouts in 90 games), and my batting average didn’t improve (.238). I had four at-bats in the first base, but I couldn’t get a hit at all. I couldn’t help but wonder if I could make it as a pro.

In his second year as a professional, he failed to make a single appearance, and in his third year he played in 49 games, but his batting average remained low at .198, and Mannami grew impatient. The key to Mannami’s awakening came from Tsuyoshi Shinjo, who took over as manager in the 2009 off-season, who gave him the following advice: “Stand up straight and keep hitting.

Just get up and hit the ball.

Mannami recalls.

At the time, my center of gravity was a bit low, and I was hitting low balls. Shinjo corrected me by telling me to hit the ball in that way. He also told me, “If your center of gravity is low, you can’t hit low balls. If your center of gravity is low, you can see the low ball and swing at it. If you raise your upper body, the ball looks farther away, so you won’t swing at it. It was an eye-opening advice. I’ve heard stories about Barry Bonds, who hit the most home runs in the majors, from managers who have experience in the majors, and I’m getting more excited about it.

Mannami overcame his weaknesses and made a breakthrough. His only relaxation is reading manga.

I’m especially addicted to ‘HUNTER x HUNTER. One of my favorites is the “Shokken-tsuki” that one of the characters performs 10,000 times a day to express his gratitude. I also incorporate it into my performance after a homerun (see photo above). I want to delight the fans with dramatic developments, just like in a comic book.”

Shinjo, who has been watching Shinjo’s performance this season closely, mentioned Mannami as a potential successor to his own number “1. I want him to hit about 30 next season,” he said.

No, no, no. My goal is 40. I don’t want to feel the pressure of having four players with the same number of home runs, as I did this season. I want to win the home run crown by a landslide.

Next season, he is expected to grow from a mainstay of Nichi-Ham to a star representing the world of baseball.

On the colored paper is his goal for next season. If he had won the home run crown this season at the age of 23 or younger, he would have been the first right-handed hitter in the Pacific League in 66 years since Katsuya Nomura.
Interview with Nakamasa Mannami of Nichi-Ham: “Shinjo’s words” awakened a sluggish cannonballer
Unpublished Cut: Interview with Nakamasa Mannami, Nippon Ham, “Shinjo’s words” that awakened a cannonballer who had been struggling to improve
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From the November 3, 2023 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO Hiroyuki Komatsu

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