Tokyo Swallows in the World Baseball Classic

The World Baseball Classic (WBC) starts next week, and we’re trying to get enough work done so that we don’t lose our jobs because we’re at the ballpark for several days straight. Below we list three players, both present and past, that you should be able to watch play next week if you can get tickets.

Norichika AokiNorichika Aoki (OF)–Aoki will possibly be playing out of position (left field) a little bit during the WBC due to the talent that is joining him from overseas, namely Kosuke Fukudome (Chicago Cubs) and Ichiro Suzuki (Seattle).
He shouldn’t have any problem handling the shift though (if one actually materializes). The 27-year-old, who bats left and throws right, is fleet of foot and has one hell of a glove.

Aoki has played a lot of international baseball these past few years, and we fear that with each additional tournament he gets just that much closer to leaving.

He led the Swallows last season with a .347, .413, .529 line, and he also managed to hit the most home runs with 14. Lord, that’s sad.

Chang-yong LimChang-yong Lim (P)–Second year closer, Lim, is making a triumphant return to the top of the Korean professional baseball world after coming back from arm surgery last year. The Korean national team is not to be scoffed at either. They beat Japan twice in the pool stages of the innagural WBC, and let us not forget that they won gold in Beijing last summer.

Lim made 54 appearances for the Swallows in 2008 and notched 33 saves from 51 innings of work with 50 strikeouts.

Lim is the only Japan-based player on the South Korean roster. Min-han Son from the Cleveland Indians rounds out Korea’s imports this year.

Of note in Korea’s bullpen is 20-year-old starter, Kwan-hyun Kim. The lefty has a seriously ungodly slider, and he has been dubbed the “Japan-killer”. Incidentally, the one guy that Kim really worries about in the Japanese lineup is Aoki. Or at least that’s what he says. I’m sure that Ichiro causes him to lose a little sleep as well.

Akinori IwamuraAkinori Iwamura (IF)–Joining Aoki on TEAM JAPAN is our beloved Iwamura. Yes, he doesn’t play for the birds anymore, it’s true, but we here at Tsubamegun like to keep an eye on him, and the WBC won’t be any different.

Iwamura was instrumental in leading the Rays to last year’s World Series where they were overtaken by the Philadelphia Phillies. He looks to feature prominently in a versatile crew of players including Ogasawara (Yomiuri), Kataoka and Nakajima (Saitama), Kawasaki (Fukuoka), and Murata (Yokohama).

Iwamura had 172 hits for Tampa Bay last year.

About Christopher Pellegrini

Christopher is a budding sabermetrician and long-time supporter of Tokyo's more lovable team, the Swallows. He has publicly volunteered, several times, that he plans to buy the team at some point in the future. When he finally runs the joint, it is likely that he will fine any player who swings at the first pitch or sac bunts (unless it's a pitcher, of course). Follow him on Twitter: @chrispellegrini

  • dan

    any idea on how hard it would be to get tickets to a single game? i didn’t want to spring for the whole strip. i’m guessing it would be much easier to see a game not featuring japan…

  • Hi Dan

    Maybe Garrett can shed more light on this (as he sorted out the tickets for us guys) but I’d imagine getting tickets for the non-Japan games at least, should be no trouble.

    I may well be wrong though.

  • Dan, as far as I know, tickets to Japan games are hard to come by, but tickets to non-Japan games are not hard to get. Trouble is that only Games 1 & 2 are decided. Game 2, on Friday, will be Taiwan vs. Korea.

    By my predicitions, Sat. night and Mon. night will almost certainly be Japan games, Sun. night is a 50/50 chance, Sat. afternoon will almost certainly not feature Japan.

    Try the Tokyo Dome box office, Pia, the WBC site, or Loppi. Check soon, though, as it appears interest has been piqued by the exhibitions.

  • dan

    garrett, thanks very for the info. i just checked the WBC site and you can now purchase single-game tickets, whereas when i checked the site a few months ago there were only full strips for sale.

    i will probably check out the korea game on friday, i think it should be a good experience. there are still tickets available online for that as of now…

  • dan

    oh, just one more thing, for those who might be reading this in search of tickets:

    for the first two games, there are non-reserved outfield tickets available at the price of Y2000. however, they are not available through the wbc website. looks like it’s a trip to the tokyo dome box office for me!