Nippon Ham’s Director Shinjo’s Serious Treatment of Kiyomoya Despite Making Two Hits in a Row | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Nippon Ham’s Director Shinjo’s Serious Treatment of Kiyomoya Despite Making Two Hits in a Row

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Kiyomiya is greeted by manager Shinjo (left) after hitting a home run in two consecutive at-bats against the Giants on March 28 (Image: Kyodo News)
“I was happy with the way I felt. I’d like to continue to improve my batting so that I can say, Today’s performance was better.”Nippon Ham’s Kotaro Kiyomiya (23) told the press with a smile after hitting two home runs in a row against the Giants at Sapporo Dome on May 28.

The two hits in a row kept up appearances.

The mild-mannered director Tsuyoshi Shinjo showed his emotions to Kiyomiya in a rare moment of openness. The kicker came in a May 25 game against Yakult, when with a two-run lead and runners on first and third with one out in the top of the ninth inning, Shinjo ordered a grand steal. However, Kiyomiya, the runner at third base, failed to make a quick start and was killed at home. In the end, the Yakult team was able to reverse the situation, and Nippon-Ham lost the game.

Even after the game was over, Shinjo’s anger did not subside. He complained about Kiyomiya’s baserunning. Is there such a thing as a game like this? If you keep making mistakes like that, you’ll never get to the next level.

It’s Different

On the following day, the 26th, Kiyomiya was removed from the starting lineup. Shinjo explained the reason to the press.

“I’m not going to let him and his teammates know that he made a mistake yesterday. I want to make sure he and his teammates understand that. I hope this frustration will make him more focused.”

Although expected to play a central role, Kiyomiya’s batting average has not been good, hovering in the low .200s. This is not the only time Shinjo has expressed his frustration.

“I often tell him no, saying, ‘That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. Even if it’s an ordinary hit, I don’t care, as long as you swing at it the way I want you to. If I feel I can count on him next time, I’ll use him. There is no pause at the beginning of the season. It’s more like he’s hitting early and with good timing.”

Director Shinjo likes the type of player who works hard to become a regular. Kiyomiya may have come from a good upbringing, but he is somewhat calm. He says with his mouth, “I’m desperate,” but he doesn’t have much sense of crisis. Even when he practices for long hours, I get the impression that he doesn’t put much effort into it. Director Shinjo must feel that Kiyomiya is being too lenient with him and is giving him a hard time.

After Kiyomiya’s two hits in a row, as I mentioned earlier, Shinjo said, “I was surprised. I felt at the plate that he was going to get at least one more hit.” However, it seems that Kiyomiya is far from having the rock-solid confidence of Shinjo.

Kiyomiya praises himself, saying that his streak was “good from a feeling standpoint,” but Shinjo does not want him to be satisfied with this level of performance. In order to entrust him with the mainstay of the team, he wants him to produce results that everyone will be satisfied with.

Until now, Shinjo has used as many players as possible and praised their strengths in order to “assess their competitiveness. Recently, however, he has been saying and doing more and more harsh things, and I think he has entered the second stage in his usage of players. The treatment of players as customers is over. It seems that his attitude of not wanting players who cannot contribute to the team has become clear.

Kiyomiya has been used patiently even when his results have not improved. Even so, if he does not live up to Shinjo’s expectations, he will be given a new job at . He may face harsh treatment.

A key point is the active draft system that is being considered for introduction starting this season. Teams will shortlist players who have not developed well or who have not been given the opportunity to play. This system will allow them to move to another team and seek a place to play. If Director Shinjo’s patience runs out, Kiyomiya may become an “active draft” player.

It seems that the Big Boss does not have as much time to make a decision as Kiyomiya thinks.

  • Photo: Kyodo News Kyodo News

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