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Friday, Aug. 14, 2009
D'Antona hits stride for surging Swallows
If September is as good to Jamie D'Antona as July was, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows might be playing baseball in late October.
The slugger has been a huge addition for Yakult since being acquired in the offseason, but will miss the next three weeks with a hamstring injury. The Greenwich, Conn., native is batting .298 with 19 home runs and 69 RBIs through Wednesday.
"Every year you always want to hit .300," the 27-year-old D'Antona says. "That's the staple. You want to hit 20 or more home runs, you want to have 80 RBIs. But right now, looks like I'm on pace to do two of them, the home runs and RBIs. The average thing, we'll see how it goes. But I'm happy with everything I'm doing."
The former Arizona Diamondbacks player is enjoying his first year in Japan and the Swallows are reaping the benefits of his presence in the lineup.
"Up until last month, it was kind of up and down," D'Antona said of his first year with Yakult. "But last month was a big highlight of it. So far I've been fortunate enough to start this month off well, too."
He went on a tear in July, leading the Central League in batting average (.416), hits (32), on-base percentage (.477) and slugging (.701), en route to being named the league's monthly MVP. D'Antona also tied Chunichi Dragons slugger Tony Blanco for the CL lead with 25 RBIs during the month.
D'Antona, who played college baseball for Wake Forest, came to Japan after spending 2008 with the Diamondbacks and the Triple-A Tucson Sidewinders. He batted .365 with 21 homers and 79 RBIs in Tucson and was selected to play in the MLB All-Star Futures Game.
Just past the halfway point of the season, D'Antona has high hopes for himself and the Swallows as the year winds down.
Long road back: Giants outfielder Yoshinobu Takahashi made his return to the diamond on Tuesday in an Eastern League game for Yomiuri's farm team.
Takahashi, who was playing his first game in 2 1/2 months, was the designated hitter and went 2-for-2 with a pair of doubles in his only two at-bats.
He is aiming to make a return to ichi-gun, with manager Tatsunori Hara saying the team is looking to try him out at first base.
In his second game on Wednesday, he struck out in his first at-bat, finishing 0-for-2 as the designated hitter batting second in the lineup.
Takahashi is a career .299 batter, with 264 home runs and 753 RBIs.