Swallows Slugger Steals Show in Samurai Japan Showdown

The Yomiuri Shimbun

San Diego Padres ace Yu Darvish, lower left, and other players watch as a pitch hit by Tokyo Yakult Swallows slugger Munetaka Murakami sails over the fence during live-situation batting practice for the Japan national team, known as Samurai Japan, on Tuesday in Miyazaki in preparation for next month’s World Baseball Classic. “It’s a little sad to have a public execution in a place like this,” joked Darvish of his first encounter with Murakami, who last season belted 56 home runs and won the Central League batting triple crown. A crowd of 18,356 gave Darvish a loud ovation as he took the mound, then cheered again when Murakami blasted a two-seam fastball over the fence.