TOKYO -- It’s hard to imagine, but last year’s Opening Day starter for the Yomiuri Giants is facing a developing situation.
Certainly Ryosuke Miyaguni didn’t see this coming when he got the ball for Yomiuri’s season opener last season -- in part because Yomiuri’s top arms were playing with the national team in the World Baseball Classic -- but the right-hander could start this season on the farm to develop his consistency.
Miyaguni, who turns 22 on April 17, didn’t impress in an extended look on Tuesday at the Sapporo Dome against the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.
Sure, it’s just a preseason game and Miyaguni was OK for three innings, surrendering a solo shot to two-way player Shohei Otani for the Fighters’ first run. But Nippon Ham exploded for five runs in the fourth inning of a 10-4 win that might have zapped the confidence away from the 2010 Yomiuri draft pick.
The Okinawa native was knocked around for seven runs, six earned, on eight hits over five frames. He fanned three, but didn’t leave the kind of impression he needed to for the two-time defending Central League champions.
Prior to the game, Miyaguni said he knew the results of his pitching would determine his fate.
“It’s all going to be about the bottom line,” Miyaguchi told Sports Hochi on Tuesday. “But not just about getting the job done when I have the chance; I want to be able to feel good about it.”
Miyaguni had trouble with his control and the Fighters made him pay dearly with five runs on five hits and an error in the fourth inning.
“They jumped on the mistakes and I got knocked around,” he said after the game.
His last time out, he yielded two runs over three innings to a South Korean team in a practice game last month. He hasn’t exactly been sharp, and with ace Tetsuya Utsumi, Tomoyuki Sugano, Toshiya Sugiuchi, new pickup Kan Otake, last year’s Korean wins leader Chris Seddon and possibly Hirokzau Sawamura standing in position to grab a spot, Miyaguni could be left to work out his issues on the farm.
Meanwhile, the Fighters, who were last in the Pacific League last year, also saw slugger Sho Nakata blast a homer and speedy infielder/outfielder Hiromi Oka beat out three infield hits (on routine grounders to shortstop) in an encouraging effort at home.
Otani, who is scheduled to start on Saturday against Shintaro Fujinami of the Hanshin Tigers, also gunned down a runner at second base with an outfield assist from left.