As if things weren’t already bad enough on the injury front, Tokyo has at least one new headache to deal with. It was reported in the Chunichi Sports online paper that second year infielder, Takahiro Araki, sustained a fractured left ankle during practice.
He will miss all future 2011 games.
We covered this a bit in Sunday’s podcast, but Araki has company at the hospital right now. The 24 year old, who was just brought up from the farm team on the 14th, is the latest in a string of injuries and illnesses to sting the left side of the Tokyo infield. Kawabata is out with a wrist injury, and it was announced last week that Keizo Kawashima had season-ending (and 2012 season-killing) elbow surgery.
That’s three shortstops down, so who’s left?
It looks like Morioka is the last man standing, so expect to see him starting next to the hobbled (two balky hamstrings) Miyamoto at third.
Oh, and according to the same Chunichi Sports article, no fewer than 16 Tokyo players have gone down with injuries or illnesses in 2011. It was mentioned that Aoki curbed the intensity of his workouts over the weekend due to back tightness. All of this may help Tokyo fans to recall a wave of influenza that washed over the team the only other time they made it to the Climax Series in 2009.
What does all of this mean? Could rookie inflielder, Tetsuto Yamada, get a call-up and be grudgingly gifted his top team debut?
Well, the left side of the infield is now potentially far more porous than it was has been at any other time this season. Miyamoto can’t really play short with two injured legs (Ogawa has said as much), so you have Morioka, and then…Yamada or Fujimoto as a backup.
Yamada has had the better run of the two this season on the farm team. Yamada logged the most at-bats (409) on Tokyo’s minor league squad and hit .259/.320/.342. Fujimoto, on the other hand, has only had 111 at-bats. His top team experience could come in handy though, even if his defensive lapses at short are well-documented.
Losing Miyamoto for even a short period of time is also a cause for concern although it does seem like we have better cover on the corners. Hatakeyama has occasionally played third, and that could mean that Whitesell would see more time at first which is definitely a good thing.
Noguchi’s stock has also risen it seems, but he’ll likely still be second in line behind Takeuchi for defensive duties at first should it come to that. Here’s a quick question: has anyone ever seen alleged speedster, Noguchi, successfully steal a base? I’m only half being a smartass here.
It will also be interesting to see if Yoshimoto gets called up even though he’s been told that his contract will not be renewed next season.
As of the time of posting, the Yakult Swallows website has not been updated with any further information regarding player movements or other injury concerns. Check back here periodically after tonight’s regular season-ending game against the Hiroshima Carp for information on how the team reshapes itself before Saturday’s game one versus Yomiuri.