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Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan acknowledges new, hitter-friendly baseball

06/12/2013 7:37 PM ET
By Matt Hughes

Nippon Professional Baseball commissioner Ryozo Kato, left, admitted changes to the league's baseballs.(AP)
Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan has acknowledged the use of a new, hitter-friendly baseball.

The new ball has put NPB -- Japan's premier baseball league -- on pace to shatter last year's mark of 881 home runs. As of Tuesday, the league has combined for 512 home runs and is on pace to hit close to 1,300 on the season.

Produced by Japanese sporting goods company Mizuno, the new baseball has been in play since the beginning of the current NPB season. The composition of the rubber core of the ball was changed to make the ball livelier. A league spokesman said changes were made to the ball to meet compliance standards, which last year's balls did not meet.

NPB has come under for fire for concealing the changes made to the new baseballs, which only two league executives and two representatives from Mizuno were reportedly privy to.

Commissioner Ryozo Kato said he had no knowledge of the changes but apologized for the confusion.

"I am deeply sorry to have caused trouble to the teams, the players and fans," he said. "In retrospect, I should have announced the change. This is a matter I need to reflect on."

NPB admitted to the changes on Tuesday in response to a demand by the player's union, which claimed that an unfair hardship was being placed on players -- seemingly pitchers -- whose performance bonuses could be effected by the new ball. NPB had previously denied that the increase in home runs was linked to the changes in the baseball.

Reports from the Associated Press and The Japan Times were used in this article.

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