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Friday, March 19, 2010

NPB NOTEBOOK

'Guts' shows off his softer side


Staff writer

FRaU is one women's magazine that's got guts.

News photo
New role: Michael Jordan was unanimously approved by the NBA's Board of Governors as the new owner of the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday. AP PHOTO

Baseball fans may be in for a slight shock in the coming weeks, when Yomiuri Giants third baseman, Michihiro Ogasawara graces the pages of the magazine's May issue.

FRaU is a magazine highlighting the latest in fashion and usually features many female celebrities, makeup tips, etc. So a rugged infielder nicknamed "Guts" is probably not the first thing most people would associate with he publication.

Though that didn't stop FRaU from dressing the Giants slugger in some fashionable duds and teasing his hair for a nine-page spread.

"I've done that sort of thing a few times," Ogasawara said. "But it was my first time to be interviewed by a women's magazine."

Ogasawara may feel out of place in a women's magazine, but he's definitely felt right at home during his three seasons with the Giants.

He joined the team after winning the 2006 Pacific League MVP Award and Japan Series with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters and promptly won the award in the Central League, batting .313 with 36 home runs and 96 RBIs.

He hit .310 with 36 homers (a career high) and 96 RBIs the following season.

Ogasawara followed that by helping lead the Giants to the Japan Series in 2009 (coincidentally against the Fighters), batting .309 with 31 homers and a career-high 107 RBIs. He also took home the Golden Spirit Award (NPB service award) for his contributions to an Ishikawa Prefecture social welfare organization.

Despite all his accomplishments, being primped and preened for a women's magazine was a new experience for the 13-year veteran.

"That is something I'm not used to," Ogasawara said. "But I enjoyed it. It was refreshing. I'm glad I was able to do something a little different."

Energy boost: Yomiuri Giants slugger Alex Ramirez is feeling better than ever. Ramirez has had an extra spring in his step this year and he's crediting a little bottle he says packs a big punch.

Ramirez has taken to drinking energy drink Xs, which he said has him feeling better and is aiding his training this spring.

"It's just unbelievable," Ramirez said of his newfound secret that he said he found through Amway. "Before the game, that's what I drink. Last year I was taking Black Powder. But I feel the difference between this and the other things. It's unbelievable."

Ramirez said he was especially pleased because the drink helped him keep his energy levels high, as opposed "to feeling that low after a while" that comes from caffeinated drinks.

Good bargain: Fans not in the mood for an energy boost can get a great deal on a burger if Chiba Lotte Marines slugger Kim Tae Kyun lives up to expectations this season.

Burger chain Lotteria is offering it's "Kim Chee Tae Kyun" burger for a mere ¥52 (in honor of Kim's uniform number) anytime the Korean slugger hits a home run this season. The burger will set hungry fans back ¥400 on days Kim fails to clear the outfield wall.

Tongue in cheek: When your nation has won the World Baseball Classic twice, there's no need to be shy about it.

The NPB announced that it's official slogan for 2010 will be "The world's best is here."

Yomiuri Giants catcher Shinnosuke Abe, manager Tatsunori Hara and Hanshin Tigers closer Kyuji Fujikawa, helped NPB commissioner Ryozo Kato unveil the slogan on Tuesday.

NPB officials have said the new slogan was not designed to portray any sort of arrogance.



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