The Saitama Seibu Lions announced a new joint venture to partner with the Saitama Musashi Heat Bears of the Baseball Challenge (BC) League on Tuesday. This partnership will last through the 2021 season.
Details from this report indicate the Lions will send Shuichiro Osada to be a pitching coach and Kentaro Kato to be a trainer alongside the Heat Bears.
Osada, 40, has been working with the Lions academy training baseball players at the youth level. He is remembered for being a pitcher for the Lions from 2003-2013 while also spending time with the Yokohama DeNA Baystars from 2013-2016. His last playing days came from the BC League with Niigata Albirex in 2017.
The Lions can also send ikusei players to train with the Heat Bears. Currently, the Lions have a total of nine ikusei under contract. This includes Jiyu Okubo, Daichi Nakaguma, Toshihiro Idei and Aoi Tono. There are also five recent draft picks from last October including Yuto Akagami, Shinya Hasegawa, Joseph Miyamoto, Taishi Mameda and Yoshinobu Mizukami.
This isn't uncommon to work with an independent league, as the Softbank Hawks train their ikusei with the Shikoku Island League.
With this partnership, the Lions also playing to have collaboration with the Heat Bears for community contribution activities in Saitama Prefecture through baseball. They'll also likely play some intrasquad games with the Lions ni-gun and Heat Bears.
The Heat Bears are also a team that Koki Matsuoka played for prior to the Lions drafting him in 2019. Previously, the Lions had a partnership with the New York Mets from 2019-2020.
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