During batting practice on Thursday, Team Japan entered Scottsdale Stadium from the center-field gate, with dozens of players, coaches and staff members walking along the warning track toward the third-base dugout.
Kensuke Tanaka, taking grounders at shortstop at the time, turned and bowed and tipped his cap to his countrymen. Japan was in town for an exhibition with the Giants, a tuneup for Sunday's World Baseball Classic semifinal in San Francisco.
"Fun and energizing," Tanaka called it.
Having signed a minor-league contract with the Giants in January, Tanaka, 31, wanted to do well in front of Team Japan (including a coach, Masataka Nashida, who managed Tanaka with the Nippon Ham Fighters) and Giants management (he's vying for a utility job).
He's a career second baseman trying to prove he can play on the left side of the infield, but it hasn't happened.
He looked shaky on several throws from short and was charged with another error, his seventh - the rest of the team has eight. He lined a fourth-inning single off submarine reliever Kazuhisa Makita, one of just five Giants hits in a 6-3 loss, and is hitting .333. But defense - not just throwing, but adjusting from artificial turf fields in Japan to grass here - is the bigger story.


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