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Friday, June 29, 2012

Sugiuchi among 11 added to All-Star rosters


Eleven players, including Yomiuri Giants lefty Toshiya Sugiuchi, were added to the Central and Pacific league All-Star rosters on Thursday, when the results of the players vote were announced by Nippon Professional Baseball.

News photo
Chin up: Hawks players Wily Mo Pena (left) and Seiichi Uchikawa were added to the Pacific League All-Star roster on Thursday. KYODO

The leaders in the players vote at each position are added to the All-Star rosters if they have not already been voted in by the fans. Eight of the players' top picks also finished No. 1 in the fan balloting. Sugiuchi's total of 426 was the fifth highest, and the most by any player not named by the fans.

Sugiuchi is one of two CL pitchers to throw a no-hitter this season, along with the Hiroshima Carp's Kenta Maeda. The fans named Maeda on nearly 50 percent more ballots than Sugiuchi (252,892 to Sugiuchi's 160,641), but the Giants southpaw was the clear favorite among the players (426 votes to Maeda's 95).

"I'll be happy to take any role I'm given," Sugiuchi said, while rejecting the strength vs strength ethos that pervades the summer exhibition. "I'm not going to simply challenge batters with my fastball. I'm going to use everything at my disposal to get them out."

Also added by the players were Chunichi first baseman Tony Blanco with 317 votes from the players, Yomiuri shortstop Hayato Sakamoto (343), Chunichi left fielder Kazuhiro Wada (235), Tohoku Rakuten ace Masahiro Tanaka (137), Rakuten catcher Motohiro Shima (168), Hokkaido Nippon Ham second baseman Kensuke Tanaka (331), Seibu third baseman Takeya Nakamura (310), Fukuoka Softbank outfielder Seiichi Uchikawa (332), Rakuten center fielder Ryo Hijirisawa (205), and Softbank designated hitter Wily Mo Pena (262).

Eagles right-hander Tanaka, who will be making his fifth appearance despite missing over a month with lower back pain, has his eye on this year's third game in Morioka on July 23.

"I think there will be a lot of the people who have suffered from the disaster," said Tanaka, who threw a scoreless inning in Sendai last summer, when that city was handed an All-Star game in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. "I want to show them a game that will make their time at the ballpark worthwhile."

Hijirisawa will be going to his first All-Star series.

Giants catcher Shinnosuke Abe is the only player to win the players vote in his league in all five years that the players have had the right to vote.

The two leagues' managers will announce their selections on Monday, while the "Plus One" internet voting to add one more player to each team will be announced on July 11.

The All-Star series will be played on July 20 at Kyocera Dome, on July 21 at Matsuyama's Botchan Stadium before concluding two days later at Iwate Prefectural Stadium.

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