Though his compatriot Murakami became the fastest ever to reach 100 home runs… What is the meaning of “Next season is the last season” for Nichi-Ham’s Kiyomiya?
“I’ve been thinking about it for the past few games. I’m glad I was able to hit.
He hit his 100th home run on September 19 against Hiroshima, the fastest home run in history at the age of 21 years and 7 months, beating Kazuhiro Kiyohara of Seibu by 21 years and 9 months.
Murakami is now one of the leading sluggers in baseball, battling with Kazuma Okamoto of the Giants for the homerun lead. However, Murakami was an outlier in the 2005 draft. But Murakami was the first pick in the 2005 draft, and Yakult’s first pick was a different player.
“It was Kotaro Kiyomiya (22) of Nippon Ham. He was called the “Japanese Babe Ruth” because he hit a total of 111 home runs in high school (Waseda Jitsugyo), and was picked by seven teams, the most ever for a high school player. He was the centerpiece of the draft. At a press conference held immediately after he drew the winning ticket, Kiyomiya expressed his confidence, saying, “I want to be a player that all people look up to and aim for.
In addition to being a “target player,” Kiyomiya hasn’t even appeared in the first team this season. He’s not just a “target player,” but he hasn’t even made a first-team appearance this season. In his fourth year with the team, there’s a big gap between the two of them.
“I’m not sure what to make of it. In his first year on the farm, he hit 17 home runs in 45 games, less than half of his total, so his home run rate has dropped.
It would be disrespectful to call Murakami, who has hit around 30 home runs three years in a row, a member of the “Kiyomiya generation. I think it would be more appropriate to refer to Kiyomiya as part of the Murakami generation.
“I don’t even care about him.
Former Nippon-Ham gunner Sho Nakata, who moved to the Giants, has often urged Kiyomiya to work harder. At the end of last season, he was scathing in his criticism.
“After the end of last season, he was critical of Kiyomiya, saying, “This year, I felt like he was no match for me, or that I didn’t even pay attention to him.
No matter how many home runs he hits on the farm, if he is not consistent, he will not be called up to the first team. No matter how many home runs he hits in the farm team, if he is not consistent, he will not be called up to the first team. He has been making an effort to improve his batting average, for example, by holding the bat short and going to bat.
“The only thing is that he has a relaxed atmosphere. I think it’s because of his generosity and the way he was raised. …… Until last year, I often saw her smiling even when she made a mistake. Even though he wasn’t getting results, he still had a chance to play in the first team, so he must still be feeling comfortable.
I think there are some issues with the team’s structure. The leadership team is not so harsh in their reprimands. In the past, Hideki Kuriyama has defended Kiyomiya when he made a mistake. I saw Kotaro’s tears many times. I saw Kotaro’s tears many times, and he looked so trapped that I was worried he was going to break down. I think that kindness has the opposite effect on Kiyomiya. Considering his calm personality, I think he needs a mentor who can be firm and merciless in his anger,” said a baseball team official.
However, we can’t take it easy next season. Kuriyama, who is in his 10th year as manager, is expected to retire this season. The most likely candidate for the next manager is Atsunori Inaba, the former manager of Samurai Japan. Inaba was trained by the late Katsuya Nomura when he was at Yakult. He himself is known for his strict leadership.
Inaba said, “With Nakata gone, we need Kiyomiya to play a central role in the first team, and we can’t have him languishing in the second team. If Inaba-san becomes the manager, he will take a look at Kiyomiya for the next year. If Inaba-san becomes the manager, he will probably take a look at Kiyomiya for the next year and see how he does.
But if the results don’t come out, I think Inaba will make a tough decision. It’s no use keeping him in the same environment. There’s a possibility that he might think that he can’t be an asset at Nippon Ham and release him to another team. In that sense, we can say that next season is Kiyomiya’s last chance.
With his peers playing so well, he is expected to take over as a tough leader. It seems that next season, Kiyomiya will face a backwater season.
photo： Kyodo News