February is the official start of the training season for pro baseball teams. Most of the 12 teams hold camps in warmer parts of the country or abroad. Here's a list of where they are training.

Central League teams:

Yakult Swallows (1995 Japan champion)
Relocated from Arizona,U.S.A. to Miyazaki Prefecture

Hiroshima Toyo Carp

Tokyo Giants
Miyazaki Prefecture, Kyushu

Yokohama Bay Stars
Ginowan-city, Okinawa

Chunichi Dragons
Chatan, Okinawa

Hanshin Tigers
Aki, Hiroshima Prefecture

Pacific League teams:

Orix Blue Wave (1996 Pacific League champion)
Miyako Island, Okinawa

Chiba Lotte Marines

Seibu Lions
Maui, Hawaii

Nippon Ham Fighters
Nago-city, Okinawa

Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
Kochi Prefecture, Shikoku

Kintetsu Buffaloes
Higo, Kumamoto Prefecture, Kyushu

Each team has started to play games within their team. Although the intention of such games is to get the players used to playing again after a few months of break, such games are attracting a huge crowd. For example, over 40,000 people gathered around the baseball stadium in Miyazaki Prefecture where Japan's most popular team, the Tokyo Giants is training. The stadium only has seats for 15,000, so unfortunately, many did not get to see the game the Giants played.

Balvino Galvez of the Dominican Republic, has been trying out for the Tokyo Giants. He pitched in two of Giants'practice games. On February 22, he was officially accepted into the team. This makes him the fourth non-Japanese on the Giants team for this coming season. Other "gaijin" players are Shane Mack, Jeff Manto and Cho Sung Min. Galvez's pitching style is quite interesting. He sticks his tongue out when he throws the ball. Many people thinks its funny. I do too!

One team is bound by a rather foolish rule this training season. Namely, it is the Yakult Swallows. The players cannot dye their hair, nor can they grow a beard or a mustache. As if that has anything to do with their performance! It's a very Japanese way of trying to achieve team discipline.

Kintetsu Buffaloes, the team Nomo used to play for,is training one of their players to pitch just like him--in that "tornado" style. This guy is not well-known yet, so I won't mention his name until he deserves recognition.