'Secret' juiced baseballs rile Japanese players

Last updated 05:39 29/06/2013

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Japan's players union has called for the resignation of Nippon Professional Baseball's commissioner following revelations that a new official ball was introduced this season without notifying players.

Toru Matsubara, the secretary general of the Japan Professional Baseball Players Association, submitted a document to NPB saying commissioner Ryozo Kato should resign and be replaced by someone who can demonstrate leadership.

With almost half the season played, NPB acknowledged earlier this month for the first time that a new ball was being used. The new, livelier ball has resulted in a sharp increase in the number of home runs.

The 71-year-old Kato, a former Japanese ambassador to the United States, said he didn't know the ball had been changed.

"We need a young, moderate commissioner who has leadership skills and can bring about the necessary reforms," Rakuten Eagles catcher and union chairman Motohiro Shima said.

There were 939 home runs in 2011 and 881 in 2012. This season's tally stood at 599 as yesterday, on pace for a season total of over 1200.

NPB previously denied this year's increase in home runs had anything to do with changes to the baseball.

NPB secretary general Kunio Shimoda said the issue was kept secret in order "to avoid confusion."

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- AP

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