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YOMIURI GIANTS TRAIN ON GUAM

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By Errol Alegre, Jr.

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Players practice reacting to the batted ball. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

Since 1993 Guam has been the location of choice for Japan’s top baseball team, the Yomiuri Giants, to train and prepare for their annual baseball season. This year is no different as 14 players arrived on January 5th to train at the Paseo Stadium in Hagatna to aid them in their upcoming season that is set to start at the end of March.

Yasu Kawauchi, a Guam resident from Japan, plays an instrumental role in the coordination of the Giants’ arrival and stay on the island year after year. According to Kawauchi, the players come to Guam every year to better their performance level. At this time of the year, Japan weather is too cold which makes it difficult for the baseball players to train under safe conditions. To help them meet the team’s standard-body-performance level of 90%, players train on Guam prior to their pre-season training camp in Japan. The players who participate are able to go into pre-season training with a body-performance level of 70%, according to Kawauchi.

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Players practice their precision passing for the entire length of the field. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

Before training on Guam the Giants would use indoor training facilities to conduct their “old fashioned” style of training, according to Kawauchi. Now that other teams have become more competitive, the Giants have enhanced their training which demanded for a warmer, outdoor environment.

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You can catch the Giants practicing at Paseo weekday mornings. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

The Yomiuri Giants are currently the defending champions in the Japan Series and are considered to be the “New York Yankees of Japan”. From 1965 to 1973, the Giants won nine straight Japan Series championships. Some of the best Japanese players of all time have played for the Giants, including home run king Sadaharu Oh.They are also the oldest and most popular team in Japan.

The Giants have birthed quite a few players who went on to play in the Major Leagues, including current players such as Hideki Matsui (Yankees 2003-2009), Hideki Okajima (Red Sox 2007-2011), Koji Uehara (Red Sox), and Hisanori Takahashi (Cub). The Giants have recently signed former MLB player Jose Lopez who played seven seasons with the Seattle Mariners. Also included in their roster is Japan’s number one pitcher Tetsuya Utsumi and Japan’s top catcher Shinnosuke Abe who are both training on Guam.

The Giants players will continue to train at the Paseo Stadium until the 22nd of this month.

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