Photo by Shoji Kudaka
Photo by Shoji Kudaka

Pro baseball warms up on Okinawa

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Okinawa

Every year the return of the cherry blossoms on the island also means the return of pro baseball. Just like the Sunshine State and Grand Canyon State are the destinations for MLB teams in the States, so are the sub-tropical islands for Japan’s pro ballplayers.

On Feb. 1, all 12 Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) teams kick-started their spring training. Nine teams out of the 12 spend some time in Okinawa, giving themselves a real workout.

Okinawa may not have a team of its own, but this is a great opportunity to catch some quality baseball. In addition to pre-season games, which are set to begin mid to late February, many practice and intra-squad games are scheduled to be held across Okinawa.  And, most are free to watch!

And while you won’t see Aaron Judge or Mike Trout hitting the diamond, catch other greats like Gerardo Parra, Alcides Escobar,  Justin Bour, and Adam Jones, who might ring a bell to some diehard MLB fans.

Don’t miss out on enjoying America’s (and Japan’s) favorite pastime while the spring is hot and the bases are all lined up!

 

NPB Teams on Okinawa

Central League

Yomiuri Giants

Dates: Feb. 15 – 25
Location: Okinawa Cellular Stadium (near Naha military port, GPS Coordinates: N 26.203543, E 127.672991)
Days off:  Feb. 20
Notable former MLB players: Rubby De La Rosa (P), Gerardo Parra (OF)

 

 

Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars 

Dates: Feb. 1 - Feb. 26
Location: Atom Home Stadium (First team, near Camp Foster and MCAS Futenma, inside of Ginowan 
Seaside Park, GPS Coordinates: N 26.282497, E 127.737381)
Kadena Baseball Stadium (Farm, near Kadena Air Base and Torii Station, GPS Coordinates: N 26.369679, E 127.770183) 
Days off: Feb. 5,10, 17, 21 (First team); Feb. 6, 10, 15, 22 (Farm)
Notable former MLB players: Spencer Patton (P), Jose Lopez (1B, 3B)

 

 

Hanshin Tigers 
Dates: Feb. 1 – Feb. 26
Location: Kariyushi Hotels Ball Park Ginoza (near Camp Schwab and Hansen, GPS Coordinates: N 
26.484100, E 127.973340)
Days off: Feb. 6, 12, 17, 21
Notable former MLB players: Justin Bour (1B), Jefry Marté (1B, 3B, OF)

 

 

Hiroshima Toyo Carp
Dates: Feb. 13 – Feb. 26 (First team); Feb. 1 – 11 (Farm)
Location: Koza Shinkin Stadium (near Kadena Air Base and Camp Foster, GPS Coordinates: N 26.333087, E 127.790218)
Days off: Feb.12, 17, 21 (First team); Feb. 6 (Farm)
Notable former MLB players: José Pirela (1B, 2B, OF), D.J. Johnson (P)

 

 

Chunichi Dragons 
Dates: Feb. 1 – Feb. 26 (First team); Feb. 1 – Feb. 28 (Farm)
Location: Chatan Park Baseball Stadium (First team, near Kadena Air Base and Camp Foster, GPS Coordinates: N 26.311735, E 127.758349); Okihamu Heiwa no Mori Baseball Stadium (Farm, near Torii Station, GPS Coordinates: N 26.397382, E 127.745814) 
Days off: Feb. 5, 10, 14, 20 (both first team and farm)
Notable former MLB players: Enny Romero (P), Dayan Viciedo (1B, OF)

 

 

Tokyo Yakult Swallows
Dates: Feb. 1 – Feb. 25
Location: ANA BALL PARK a.k.a. Urasoe Municipal Baseball Stadium (near Camp Kinser, GPS Coordinates: N 26.251310, E 127.723570)
Days off: Feb. 5, 10, 14, 20
Notable former MLB players: Alcides Escobar (SS), Norichika Aoki (OF)

 

 

 

Pacific League

Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles

Dates: Feb. 1 - 9 (First team, Kumejima), Feb. 1 – 18 (Farm, Kumejima), Feb. 11 – 20 (First team, Kin town)
Location: Kumejima Island Baseball Stadium (GPS Coordinates: N 26.349624, E 126.734652); Nakazato Baseball Stadium (GPS Coordinates: N 26.336017, E 126.813090); Kin Town Baseball
Stadium (near Camp Hansen, GPS Coordinates: N 26.462516, E 127.941525)
Days off: Feb. 5, 14 (Frist team), Feb. 5, 10, 15 (Farm)
Notable former MLB players: JT Chargois (P), Jabari Blash (OF)

 

 

Chiba Lotte Marines 
Dates: Feb. 1 – Feb. 13 (First team), Feb. 1 – 25 (Farm)
Location: Ishigaki City Chuo Athletic Park Baseball Stadium (GPS Coordinates: N 24.345124, E 124.171505)
Days off: Feb. 5, 10 (First team); Feb. 5, 10, 14, 20 (Farm)
Notable former MLB players: Brandon Laird (3B), Frank Herrmann (P)

 

 

Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
Dates: Feb. 1 – 25 (First Team); Feb. 1 – 21 (Farm)
Location: Tapic Stadium Nago (First team, near Camp Schwab, GPS Coordinates: N 26.593055, E 127.966972), Kaigin Stadium Kunigami (Farm, GPS Coordinates: N 26.726975, E 128.162014)
Days off: Feb. 5, 10, 14, 20 (First Team), Feb. 5, 10, 17 (Farm)
Notable former MLB players: Nick Martinez (P), Christian Villanueva (3B)

 

Practice Games

Feb. 8
- Fighters’ intrasquad game @ Tapic Stadium Nago, 1 p.m.

Feb. 11
- Fighters vs. Tigers @ Tapic Stadium Nago, 1 p.m.

Feb. 12
- Dragons vs. Bay Stars (Farm) @ Yomitan Heiwa no Mori Stadium, 1 p.m.

Feb. 13
- Dragons vs. Bay Stars @ Chatan Park Baseball Stadium, 1 p.m.
- Fighters vs. Golden Eagles @ Tapic Stadium Nago, 1 p.m.

Feb. 15
- Golden Eagles vs. Swallows @ Kin Town Baseball Stadium, 1 p.m.
- Fighters’ intrasquad game @ Kaigin Stadium Kunigami, 1 p.m.

Feb. 16
- Swallows vs. Fighters @ ANA Ball Park Urasoe, 1 p.m.

Feb. 17
n Bay Stars vs. Dragons (Farm) @ Atom Home Stadium, 1 p.m.

Feb. 18
- Swallows vs. Bay Stars @ ANA Ball Park Urasoe, 1 p.m.
- Fighters vs. Samsung Lions @ Tapic Stadium Nago, 1 p.m.

Feb. 19
- Bay Stars vs. Marines @ Atom Home Stadium, 1 p.m.
- Fighters vs. Carp @ Tapic Stadium Nago, 1 p.m.

Feb. 20
- Fighters vs. Bay Stars (Farm) @ Tapic Stadium Nago, 1 p.m.

Feb. 21
- Bay Stars vs. Dragons (Farm) @ Atom Home Stadium, 1 p.m.

Feb. 25
- Dragons vs. Bay Stars @ Chatan Park Baseball Stadium, 1 p.m.

 

Spring Training Games

Feb. 16
- Giants vs. Bay Stars @Naha Cellular Stadium, 1 p.m.

Feb. 22
- Bay Stars vs. Golden Eagles @ Atom Home Stadium, 1 p.m.
- Fighters vs. Giants @ Tapic Stadium Nago, 1 p.m.
- Dragons vs. Tigers @ Chatan Park Baseball Stadium, 1 p.m.
- Swallows vs. Carp @ ANA Ball Park Urasoe, 1 p.m.

Feb. 23
- Dragons vs. Bay Stars @ Chatan Park Baseball Stadium, 1 p.m.
- Giants vs. Golden Eagles @ Naha Cellular Stadium, 1 p.m.
- Fighters vs. Swallows @ Tapic Stadium Nago, 1 p.m.
- Carp vs. Tigers @ Koza Shinkin Stadium, 1 p.m. (admission fee 1,500 yen, approx. $13.71 or more for adult, 500 yen or more for minor)

Feb. 24
- Dragons vs. Golden Eagles @ Chatan Park Baseball Stadium, 1 p.m.
- Fighters vs. Bay Stars @ Tapic Stadium Nago, 1 p.m.
- Swallows vs. Tigers @ ANA Ball Park Urasoe, 1 p.m.
- Giants vs. Carp @ Naha Cellular Stadium, 1 p.m.

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