He is bigger than Hotaka Yamakawa! SoftBank’s biggest addition this season is a “magical coach” returning from the Majors. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

He is bigger than Hotaka Yamakawa! SoftBank’s biggest addition this season is a “magical coach” returning from the Majors.

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Head coach Hiroshi Narahara (second from left), first-team pitching coach Kurano (third from left), and third-team farm pitching coach Kazuhisa Makita (far right) support Kokubo’s new organization.

SoftBank finished the opening game in first place, leading the 12 teams in home runs with 18 and ranking third in batting average (.248), as if last year’s poor batting performance was a lie. SoftBank’s opening game was against the Orix, the three-time Pacific League champions, but they came out on top with a 2-1 win.

The batting lineup has just become more powerful. Walker (32), who transferred from the Giants, is good, but Hotaka Yamakawa (32) is the real deal. In the opening game, his batting average was .306, with 3 homers in 36 at-bats. In the opening game, he hit a home run off Orix ace Daiya Miyagi (22), showing no signs of blanks at all.

He was also very “in character” in his interviewing. I had heard that he talked a lot since his days at Seibu, but I got the impression that he talked twice as much as other players. He always looked at the questioner and answered in a slow tone. It seemed as if he was thinking about what he was going to say so as not to say anything strange, but the Hawks reporters generally liked him. I thought he had a good-natured side to him,” said a Softbank reporter for a sports newspaper.

The batting lineup of Kensuke Kondo (30), Yuki Yanagita (35), and Yamakawa is one of the most destructive in the baseball world, but “The problem is the pitching staff, especially the starters. The problem is the pitching, especially the starters,” said a baseball team official.

Aside from Kohei Arihara (31), the starting pitcher, 43-year-old Tsuyoshi Wada has been mentioned as the second best pitcher, but the youngsters have not developed.

I don’t know whether or not Wada was affected by the human security issues that accompanied the FA transfer of Yamakawa, but he felt tension in his left calf and left armpit during his voluntary training, so he slowed down and made some adjustments. He threw a few times in the open game, but did not feel comfortable, and he said, “It’s not good at all. I have to find the cause. The blister on his left finger was also a factor, and in the end, he did not make the opening day rotation.

Stewart Jr. (24), who pitched well in the third game, has become a big weapon, with a straight ball approaching 160 km/h and an improved cut ball that he says he can get strikes at any time. His mound handling is also magnificent. A few years ago, I would get a little emotional and get angry at myself, and it would easily lead to a ball, then a ball, and so on. But recently, I’ve been really calm on the mound.

Manager Hiroki Kokubo (52) also commented that “he has changed” and “he is different from before. Taking into account the fact that they ate out of the same pot in the farm last year, he may be the poster child for Kokubo’s Hawks.

Most encouraging of all is the return of pitching coach Shinji Kurano, 49, who spent two years coaching in the minors for the Rangers of the Major League Baseball until last year.

Coach Kurano exchanges words with ace pitcher Arihara at spring training camp.

On his return to Japan, Coach Kurano expressed his confidence in the rebuilding of the pitching kingdom in front of the media.

A few years ago, the Hawks had a string of hard-throwing pitchers with fastballs over 150 kilometers per hour. He was called ‘Kurano’s magical transformation’ because of his ability to bring up a succession of humble pitchers. Upon his return, Kurano said, “I spent two years in the majors, and I came back after ‘transforming’ myself. (I myself am responsible for the collapse of the pitching staff.

I want to be the best coach in Japan in creating an environment that nurtures players by combining the best parts of the U.S. and Japan. I want to develop the second and third Senga.” “If I can mix the best of Japan with the cutting-edge technology and coaching of the U.S., there is a possibility that I can surpass the U.S.,” said a SoftBank reporter with strong enthusiasm.

The media in Fukuoka are saying that the return of Coach Kurano is the “biggest reinforcement of the season. If Coach Kurano’s magical change of approach gradually takes effect, SoftBank will be a major obstacle in preventing the Orix from winning a fourth consecutive championship.

  • Photo: Kyodo News Kyodo News

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