The big boss of Nippon-Ham has unveiled yet another surprising project.
I thought, ‘I’m going to make him sharper and sharper, with a bat control. I thought, ‘I’ve become sharper, sharper, and my bat control has improved, so if I get stronger through weight training, my swing speed will also increase. I think if I get him to swing the bat harder with weights, he’ll get even more power.”
At an event held by the Metropolitan Police Department on August 1, Tsuyoshi Shinjo proposed a plan to “machoize” Kotaro Kiyomiya (23). Last offseason, Kiyomiya decided to lose weight after being told by Shinjo, “Aren’t you a little fat? He lost about 10 kg. He succeeded in losing about 10 kg. Now, however, he has decided to increase his muscle mass. Shinjo explained his intention as follows.
He has the ability to catch and angle the ball. If you add head speed and bat swing to that, I think you can throw the ball even when it is jammed. I like the power of Murakami of the Yakult team. …… （He will be in camp (next spring) with his arms outstretched. I want him to surprise us with his big body. I want him to surprise us.
Differences in stature from his classmate Murakami
The “Murakami-kun” that Shinjo refers to is Yakult’s main gun, Munetaka Murakami. Murakami joined the team at the same time as Kiyomiya, but this season he has shown a different level of performance, hitting home runs in five consecutive at-bats. Manager Shinjo must be expecting Murakami’s level of style and performance from Kiyomiya as well.
Shinjo seems to be trying to develop Kiyomiya step by step. The first step was a weight-loss order, which made him lose all the unwanted flesh. The next step would be to increase his power by increasing his muscle strength. Director Shinjo’s training has had a certain effect. This season, for the first time ever, Kiyomiya has hit double digits in home runs, breaking his own record. If he can finally hit .277 with 20 homers, it should give him a lot of confidence for next season.
Shinjo’s expectations can also be seen in his batting order.
He said, “In the beginning, I put him in the cleanup lineup to make him more aware of long hits, but recently I have been placing him in the No. 1 spot more often. What is required of the leadoff man is a high on-base percentage. The low certainty is Kiyomiya’s shortcoming. The strike zone is flipped to the center of the plate, and even pitches he is not good at may be taken in the opposite direction so that Kiyomiya can gain experience.
Everyone recognizes Kiyomiya’s ability, as Yuki Yanagita of Softbank says, “He has more power to fly the ball than I do. If he gains more power by strengthening his muscles and becomes more reliable, he will become a formidable player. Shinjo is developing him over a long period of time in the hope that he will become the mainstay of Nippon Ham in the future.
Shinjo is said to be impressed not only by Kiyomiya’s ability, but also by his inner qualities.
He is said to be impressed not only by Kiyomiya’s ability, but also by his personality. He says he is desperate, but I get the impression that he has little sense of urgency. Director Shinjo must be feeling a sense of inadequacy. He often complains, “He’s not like that,” or “He needs to be more aggressive.
On the other hand, he has a very straightforward personality. He immediately accepted the order to reduce his weight and succeeded in losing 10 kg in about two months. Manager Shinjo must have been very fond of Kiyomiya, who faithfully tried to follow his advice. He is giving him a hard time, but he is also looking out for him in some way.
Accepting the advice of the big boss, Kiyomiya seems to be making steady progress. Will he be able to make next year the year of his awakening, showing performance to match that of his rival Murakami?
Photo： Kyodo News