So it was a windy day on February when Kazuya was having his HR project training with Arai Takahiro. At the beginning of it, there were little interruptions from another Hanashin Tigers' player, Tomoaki Kanemoto.
Arai: Today’s going to be harsh.
Even though he’d vouched his faith, why is that?
Arai: The wind today is very much against you.
[in the studio]
Arai: If it drags your ball then it’ll be impossible. It’s helpful to expand the ball for left batters though. For right batters it might be impossible.
That day the wind was strongly blowing to the left. So for lefties it’ll carry the ball further out of the field. But for right batters like Kamenashi the wind would blow infield and shortens the range
Arai: What about for people like me who can only hit short flies?
Arai: I think today would be difficult for even pro baseball athletes.
And at that moment—
Kazuya: Good morning,
In front of them is… Kanemoto Tomoaki player. (They’re so close, practically like brothers with each other. Also, people call Kanemoto-san ‘Aniki’ as in older brother)
Kanemoto: Arai-player these days starts everything with excuses,
He’s already making excuses?
Kanemoto: Uh-huh. Something about wind that’s against you or whatever. Are you airing stuff out or something? (lol) (while walking out) he’s starting with excuses. *mimicking Arai-san* today’s wind is against you~ It’s fine for left batters though~ (c)
Kanemoto-san’s teasing wasn’t about to stop there. On the other hand Arai-player is determined to make Kamenashi hit a home run, and is starting with an unusual practice menu for him.
With a piece of rubber wrapped around your waist, you are to move a series of balls that are placed on the ground from one placeholder to another. (c)
[Kazuya: This was amazing]
[Kazuya: This really puts strain or your body. It doesn’t look like such a hard training but—]
[Ueda: Is that so? It was very tiring then?]
With reaching for a ball in such a low position, it helps to train the lower part of the body that is important for one’s batting ability.
Arai: This is quite tiring. You’ll sweat for sure.
Kamenashi tried out a training menu that’s difficult for even pro athletes.
(Kazuya did the training.)
[Kazuya: I was using all my strength for this.]
[Kazuya: I was. I wasn’t doing it slowly on purpose.]
[Kazuya: This was the maximum.]
[Ueda: Like that? But you look like how an old man would do it,]
[Egawa: That has to be draining.]
[Ueda: Is that so?]
[Egawa: It’s the type of training that only uses a part of your muscle. They’re always very draining.] (c)
And here Kanemoto-player was…
Kanemoto: Oi! Mr. Pro Athlete! Why is the guy who couldn’t hit 20 HRs in Koshien teaching HR now? Teach after you hit more than 20,
Kazuya: *laughs* Aniki is…
Kanemoto: Mr. Pro Athlete!
Arai: (to Kazuya) he’s always around me at times like these *laughs*
(Kanemoto-san then list out Arai-san’s HR records, wwwww)
Kanemoto: 2008: 8 times. 2009: 15. 2010: 19. That was close,
And here Arai-san came for the counterattack.
Arai: 2005: 43 times.
Kanemoto: Lucky hits, lucky hits.
Arai: The one who came second then was Kanemoto-san. Regrettable, that. (c)
It was a real fun to watch how Kanemoto-san interrupted Arai-san and Kazuya ^_^
And about that piece of rubber, I've tried something similar once and it's really hard and tiring to do.
And now it's time for the actual batting training that wasn't an easy one because of the strong wind. And that wind wasn't going to help Kazuya to hit the ball farther than his personal best, 92 meters.
Arai: I did said that I’m sure Kamenashi-kun can hit a HR, but with the wind as it is today, I think there’s not much you can do.
Kazuya: There’s not much I can do, right,
Arai: Just think of today as a special camp training.
Kazuya: A camp training then,
And another thing on Kamenashi’s mind is—
Kazuya: Starting this season, the ball changed, didn’t it?
This year they’re using teihanpatsukyuu, the flightless ball that is heavier. To deal with such a heavier ball, Arai player has a secret weapon he uses. And that is this.
Rubber balls that are about the same size as golf balls. Hanshin has been using these balls for practice since this year’s camp. Since teihanpatsukyuu won’t fly unless you hit them at the center(core), with using smaller balls they learn to aim for the core of them.
Arai: If you don’t hit it right at the center, if your aim slips out of place even for a bit, the ball won’t fly at all.
Kazuya: They’re that different?
Arai: Completely different.
So Kamenashi went straight to practicing hitting the smaller ball.
(He missed on the first swing)
Kazuya: This is difficult,
Once again paying close attention to hitting the center of the ball…
(He managed to hit on his subsequent swings)
Arai: That’s actually pretty amazing, Kamenashi-kun. When we’re first doing this, a lot of our players couldn’t hit the balls
Arai: You’re just normally hitting them.
After he managed to get the sense of it, they started with the normal ball. Watching that, Arai player said-
Arai: You don’t seem to be utilizing your weight very efficiently.
[in the studio]
[Ueda: See, this again right? People kept telling you and you keep not listening,]
Arai: You tend to lean back, so that at the point of impact your strength is lost.
[Kamenashi: I kept going into these (the trainings) feeling like a novice, so—]
[Ueda: Memorize them! (the instructions) Though I know it’s not easy to do,]
Arai: So your weight doesn’t get transferred into the ball since it dissipated beforehand.
[Ueda: So you really can’t open your stance, right?]
[Kamenashi: Unless you swing the bat everyday, it’s hard to make your body memorize that. And you’d ended up back with your old habit.]
[Ueda: That’s true.] (c)
He’s to pay attention to how he swivel his hips. In Kamenashi’s case, he swivel his hips too fast into the stance. And with that his body tends to lean back, so that the power he uses doesn’t reach the ball very well.
Arai: Try rising your leg. Higher, try it higher. Like the first position for pitching. Raise it higher and then let it fall into your swing.
(Kazuya tried rising his leg and managed to improve his swing)
Arai: Yes, like that. Okay.
With him rising his legs higher, it helps delay the swivel of his hips. And his weight are transfered into the ball better
Then they start with the free batting session. First of all, a demonstration from Arai-san
(He failed to hit a HR)
Kazuya: Even that didn’t go in…
(He tried again)
Kazuya: This one should go in (it didn’t) Ehh?? If we’re in a more normal condition that should go in, right?
Arai: Normally, yes.
Kazuya: So the wind carried your ball back for about 5 meters?
Arai: I think it’s a little more than that, closer to 10 meters, probably. But. Wait. I’m getting fired up *laughs*
(He succeeded this time)
Arai: That was a close one! I’d panicked if I can’t get one in!
In the adverse wind that troubled even professional athletes, Kamenashi’s tried his hand on it. Can he hit a HR?
(He tried hitting a few times, but getting used to the new stance messed with his timing, he’s a few milliseconds too slow.)
And here, an advice from Arai player.
Arai: Try putting more weight into this side (left). Leaning forward is okay.
(He tried again)
Arai: Good one! See? If not for the wind today, that would reach quite a distance. Really.
Kazuya: That stance felt good.
Arai: You can feel that your power got transferred through, right?
(He hit a good one)
His furthest distance today is… 88m.
Kazuya: (to the pitcher) Thank you very much.
Kazuya: He (Ueda-san) is probably already booing at me in the studio
Kazuya: I’m not in any position to talk back to him though,
Arai: (to Ueda-san) I’m certain he can hit one. Even today, without such adverse wind, he’d probably already hit two HRs. He’ll do it.
Kazuya: Thank you very much. Ueda-san. We can say that I’ve hit one, then.
What!? You’re trying to end it like that!? I never knew you’re so underhanded, Kamenashi-kun!
Even if the result of Kazuya's HR project is already known, it's still nice to watch his training sessions and I still have this little excitement while watching his hard work :)
And like always, my post will end with few screencaps from the studio. Kame in suit is always a pleasure to watch ^_^
(c) credit for the translation goes to takarai_karin, Thank You very much for sharing my friend :)