Can you believe it? Baseball season’s here!

By Bill Charles

The annual pro-baseball spring camps attract thousands of media and fans from all over the nation to follow the practice games.

Don’t be surprised if you see people grabbing their baseball bats or humming “take me out to the ball game” from this weekend on, because despite the seemingly brisk temperatures, it IS baseball season.

Okinawa Prefecture’s the hub of spring training for both Japanese and Korean professional baseball teams, with six teams to begin training today on Okinawa’s main island, while another three begin workouts on outlying islands.  Only the Hiroshima Carp have not returned to Okinawa City this year, as the city is in the process of building a new stadium.

From Nago in the North, to Miyakojima and Ishigaki in the prefecture’s far south, the nine Japanese teams, plus another six from the Korean Baseball organization are making our islands a temporary home.

The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters are at Nago City Stadium the entire month, while

the Hanshin Tigers plant their bats and helmets at Ginoza Village Stadium through the 22nd.  The Yokohama DeNA Baystars are at Ginowan City Stadium for the month, while the Chunichi Dragons are calling Chatan Park Stadium home.  The Tokyo Yakult Swallows are at Urasoe City Stadium through the 27th, and the Yomiuri Giants are at Naha City Onoyama Stadium through the 26th.

Ishigaki’s City Central Athletic Park Stadium is home to the Chiba Lotte Marines through

The teams interact with local youngsters who get to see and meet their idols up close and personal.

the 19th, while the Orix Buffaloes are fixed at Miyako City Stadium through the 22nd.  The Buffaloes will play exhibition games on February 23rd and 24th on Okinawa’s main island.  The Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles arrive tomorrow at Kume Island Stadium Hotaru Dome for two weeks training.

Korea’s chosen Okinawa for the same reasons as the Japan teams; it’s warmer.  The Samsung Lions are at Onna Akama Ball Park for a month beginning the 6th, while the SK Wyverns take to Uruma City Gushikawa Stadium  February 18th to March 5th.  The KIA Tigers will be at Kin Town Baseball Stadium from the 10th until March 6th, and the LG Twins are making the Uruma City Ishikawa Stadium their indefinite home beginning the 7th.  The Hanwha Eagles like Kochinda Athletic Park Stadium, where they’ve been for ten days now, and the Nexen Heroes arrive soon, and are looking for a training home.

The squads are anxious to go one-on-one, and have scheduled a good many practice games and exhibition games while preventing common baseball injuries before the season starts.  Some of the practice games are free, and some have an admission fee posted.

<Schedule of practice games>

2/05 Chunichi Dragons vs. Hanwha Eagles(Korea)(Chatan Sports Park 13:00)

2/07 Nippon Ham Fighters (Intrasquad game)(Nago City13:00)

2/10 Nippon Ham Fighters vs. Hanshin Tigers(Nago City 12:30)

2/11 Chunichi Dragons vs. Samsung(Korea)(Chatan Sports Park 13:00)

2/11 Nippon Ham Fighters vs. Hanwha Eagles(Korea)(Nago City 12:30)

2/11 Hanshin Tigers vs. LG(Korea)(Ginoza Village 13:00)

2/12 DeNA BayStars (farm team) vs. Hanwha Eagles (Korea) (Ginowan City 13:00)

2/14 Nippon Ham Fighters vs. KIA Tigers(Korea)(Nago City 13:00)

2/16 Chunichi Dragons vs. Hanshin Tigers (Chatan Sports Park 13:00)

2/16 Nippon Ham Fighters vs. DeNA BayStars(Nago City 13:00)

2/16 Yakult Swallows vs. KIA Tigers(Korea)(Urasoe City 13:00)

2/17 Chunichi Dragons vs. KIA Tigers(Korea)(Chatan Sports Park 13:00)

2/17 Yakult Swallows vs. DeNA BayStars(Urasoe City 13:00)

2/17 Nippon Ham Fighters (Intrasquad game)(Kunigami 13:00)

2/17 Hanshin Tigers vs. Rakuten Golden Eagles(Ginoza Village12:30)

2/18 Yakult Swallows vs. KIA Tigers(Korea)(Urasoe City)

2/19 Yomiuri Giants vs. Samsung (Korea)(Naha City Onoyama Stadium)

2/19 DeNA BayStars (farm team) vs. SK(Korea)(Ginowan City 13:00)

2/20 Yakult Swallows vs. Nippon Ham Fighters(Urasoe City 13:00)

2/20 DeNA BayStars vs. LG(Korea)(Ginowan City 13:00)

2/20 Yomiuri Giants vs. Hanshin Tigers(Naha City Onoyama Stadium 12:30)

2/20 KIA Tigers(Korea) vs. Rakuten Golden Eagles(Kin Town)

2/21 KIA Tigers(Korea) vs. Rakuten Golden Eagles(Kin Town)

2/21 Hanshin Tigers vs. Chiba Lotte Marines(Ginoza Village 13:00)

2/21 Yomiuri Giants vs. Yakult Swallows(Naha City Onoyama Stadium 13:00)

2/21 Nippon Ham Fighters vs. Nexen Heroes(Korea)(Nago City 13:00)

2/22 Chunichi Dragons vs. KIA Tigers(Korea)(Chatan Sports Park 13:00)

2/22 DeNA BayStars vs. Nexen Heroes(Korea)(Ginowan City 13:00)

2/25 Yomiuri Giants vs. LG(Korea)(Naha City Ounoyama Stadium 13:00)

2/26 DeNA BayStars vs. Nexen Heroes(Korea)(Ginowan City 13:00)

2/25 Yakult Swallows vs. Hiroshima Carp(Urasoe City 13:00)

2/26 Chunchi Dragons vs. LG(Korea)(Chatan Sports Park 13:00)

2/26 Nippon Ham Fighters vs. Hiroshima Carp(Nago City 13:00)

2/27 Chunichi Dragons vs. SK(Korea)(Chatan Sports Park 13:00)

2/27 DeNA BayStars vs. Hiroshima Carp(Ginowan City 13:00)

<Exhibition matches>

2/23 Yakult Swallows vs. Rakuten Golden Eagles(Urasoe City 13:00)

2/23 Yomiuri Giants vs. Hiroshima Carp(Naha City Onoyama Stadium 13:00)

2/23 Nippon Ham Fighters vs. Hanshin Tigers(Nago City 13:00)

2/23 DeNA BayStars vs. Orix Buffaloes(Ginowan City 13:00)

2/23 Chunichi Dragons vs. Chiba Lotte Marines(Chatan Sports Park 13:00)

2/24 Yakult Swallows vs. Hanshin Tigers(Urasoe City 13:00)

2/24 Yomiuri Giants vs. Rakuten Golden Eagles(Naha City Onoyama 13:00)

2/24 Nippon Ham Fighters vs. Hiroshima Carp(Nago City 13:00)

2/24 DeNA BayStars vs. Chiba Lotte Marines(Ginowan City 12:30)

2/24 Chunichi Dragons vs. Orix Buffaloes(Chatan Sports Park 13:00)