“It’s a little late for that. ……
The Giants’ team officials are complaining about Sho Nakata (32), who was dropped to the second team on September 11, and has been struggling with a .150 batting average in 16 games (as of September 13) since being transferred from Nippon Ham in August. He had been playing mainly in the middle of the lineup as the No. 5 hitter, but it was clear that he was dragging the team down as they battled for the top spot. The fact that he was demoted almost a month after joining the team gives the impression that he is slow.
“He struck out with a limp swing, and even when the ball did hit the bat, he popped up to fly out at the right time. He was hardly functioning as a cleanup pitcher. In recent years, he has often been dropped from the starting lineup.
It wasn’t just as an asset that Nakata was a burden to the team. He had a negative aura, and he was making the atmosphere worse. He may have been concerned about the people around him because of his sudden transfer after a violent incident, but he was just too quiet ……. Before the game, he would do the pre-game ups by himself without a care in the world. Because of the lack of results, he is downcast on the bench and doesn’t actively try to talk to his teammates. Not only was he stopping the flow of the batting line, but he was also lowering the motivation of the other players.
During his time with Nippon Ham, Nakata was called “the general” because of his strong appearance, but inside he is a sensitive person. He may have been deflated by the thought that the Giants had picked him up after he had caused trouble. Daisuke Motoki, the head coach of the team, tried his best to talk with Kazuma Okamoto, the main gunner, and Tatsunori Hara, the manager himself, to teach him how to hit, but he could not seem to integrate into the team.
Special circumstances that kept Hara from using him
“Nakata has left his home in Hokkaido and is living alone in a hotel in Tokyo. He is living alone in a hotel in Tokyo, under a declared state of emergency due to the new coronavirus, and cannot go out for a drink to refresh himself. It’s obvious that if a weekly magazine takes pictures of her, she will be bashed, saying, ‘What are you doing causing trouble? She must be under a lot of stress, being stuck in a hotel.
The condition of his back, which is a chronic disease, does not seem to be good either. In June when he was with Nippon-Ham, he had to be carried out on a stretcher because he couldn’t move during a game due to acute back pain. There’s no way that his condition will suddenly improve just because he’s with the Giants. I think part of the reason for his slump in batting is his poor health. However, because of the violent incident that led to his transfer to the Giants, he couldn’t say to them, ‘I’m in pain, let me rest. It must be a tough situation for Nakata as well.
He can’t function as a fighting force, and the atmosphere of the team is bad. In addition, he is not in a position to complain about his condition. Why did the Giants continue to use Nakata, a player with so many negative factors, in the first team?
“It’s because Mr. Hara, the manager with full authority, acquired Nakata almost at his own discretion. We had a hotline with Hideki Kuriyama, the manager of Nippon Ham, and we talked directly on the phone and decided to trade him. He said, “I will try to bring him back. He said, “I’ll try to use him again, and I’m sure he’ll help us win the league championship three years in a row. When I opened the door, I found myself in this situation: …….
I’m sure he’ll admit he made a bad decision by demoting him to the second team right after he was acquired, no matter how bad his condition was. Therefore, I balked and continued to use him. When reporters asked him the reason for the team’s slump, he mentioned the name of Yoshihiro Maru, who was also in a slump. He deliberately avoided the topic of Nakata,” said a sports reporter.
After a month, Manager Hara must have reached the limit of his patience, because Nakata, who was demoted to the second team, is now facing a harsh reality.
“I’m not sure what to make of it. In the first place, when he was suspended indefinitely for an assault incident at Nippon Ham and manager Kuriyama gave up on him, saying that it would be difficult for him to make a comeback with this team, there were whispers that Nakata was in danger of retiring. It was thought that no team would dare to acquire a player who had caused trouble.
The move to the Giants was a fortuitous one. For Nakata, it must have been a team that he was prepared to join. If he couldn’t produce results even with the Giants, and if he couldn’t become a force to be reckoned with, …… would be the place to be. The team may have to make a tough decision this off-season, as manager Hara had high expectations for him.
On September 13, Nakata received an hour-long one-on-one coaching session with Shigeo Nagashima, the honorary manager for life, at the second base. Will he be able to start over from scratch and regain his brilliance?
Photo： Jiji Press