Nakata of Giants Being Drop of Starting Line-up — Will this be His Last Season? | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Nakata of Giants Being Drop of Starting Line-up — Will this be His Last Season?

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Nakata gets downed on first fly in a game against Chunichi Dragons on March 15 (Image: Kyodo News)

It was a scene that symbolized his poor performance this season.

In a game against Hanshin Tigers on April 16, the Giants were behind by one run going into the top of the 9th inning. With no outs and a runner on first, Sho Nakata (31) came to bat. However, he gave up a powerless first fly, and Giants fans let out a sigh of relief. The Giants had unexpectedly suffered back-to-back losses to the bottom-ranked Hanshin, who had gone 2-15 the previous day. After the game, Giants manager Tatsunori Hara commented:

“We need to connect a little more as a lineup. We need to be more energetic.

As of April 18, Nakata is batting .194 with two home runs and 12 strikeouts. On April 9, against Yakult, he was given the opportunity to score the tying run in the eighth inning with no outs and runners on first and second base. In a game against Yakult on April 9, he suffered the humiliation of being substituted out at a crucial opportunity with the tying run on first and second base with no outs in the eighth inning.

In a game against Hanshin Tigers on August 15, he struck out two and made an error. Manager Hara must have decided that he was in no condition to start a game. The dropping of him from the starting lineup and replacing him in the middle of the game are rough treatment. He said, “I won’t use him in the middle of the order even if he’s in bad shape, like Nippon Ham (his old team) did. I think it was a message from manager Hara, saying, ‘Come on up by yourself.’ “

Nakata was supposed to have nothing but confidence.

Nakata has made a good start this season, gaining about 20 kg to reach his best weight of 112 kg at the camp in February. He also had a good start to the season, and he told those around him, “Right now, I have nothing but confidence. I want to hit a career high (more than 31 homers). However,

I think the pressure may be getting to me. Once the season starts, there is a lot of pressure on the Giants’ main players. Every game attracts attention from the media and fans, and results are demanded. There is a unique atmosphere that only a super-popular baseball team can have.

One thing that concerns me is that Nakata has been used more often as a substitute batter. Nakata is the type of player who, even in a down season, regains his form by getting in the batter’s box four or five times in each game and getting a feel for the game. It is questionable whether he can produce the kind of results desired by manager Hara after just one at-bat.

However, it seems that we cannot afford to take things too easy.

He was a player who had been involved in a violent incident at Nichi-Ham and was acquired over the protests of those around him. If he doesn’t produce results for the second year in a row, the office won’t be happy.

In the same position, Hiroyuki Nakajima has been starting more often, and Masato Akihiro, who was given the same number as Hideki Matsui (55) in his second year, has been hitting in the 30% range in the second base lineup. If this situation continues, Nakata will lose his place. It will be a year in which his life as a player will be questioned.

Nakata has no more time left. If Nakata is to regain the manager’s trust and be entrusted with the center fielder’s job again, he will have to produce results at all cost.

  • Photo Kyodo News

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