Dual threat Shohei Otani creating buzz as MLB stars tour Japan
Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell is looking forward to seeing Japanese pitching sensation Shohei Otani during Major League Baseball’s all-star postseason tour of Japan.
Farrell and 29 major league players arrived in Osaka on Sunday night ahead of their five-game series against Japan starting Wednesday. The MLB all-stars will also play two exhibition games during their tour.
Farrell, who is managing the MLB squad, singled out Otani as the player he is most interested in.
The 20-year-old right-hander went 11-4 with 179 strikeouts and a 2.61 ERA this season for the Nippon Ham Fighters. Otani also plays the outfield for the Fighters and posted a respectable .274 batting average with 10 home runs and 31 RBIs in 87 games. He is expected to pitch Game 5 in front of his home crowd at Sapporo Dome.
”We know the players on this roster are all going to be talented,” Farrell said at a media conference Monday. ”Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing Otani pitch. A young guy who has got a tremendous arm, very good stuff.”
Before turning pro in 2013, Otani announced in 2012 that he would pursue a career in Major League Baseball but he was drafted by the Fighters and eventually convinced to stay in Japan.
Listed at 193 centimeters (6-foot-4) and 86 kilograms (190 pounds), Otani has a fastball that has been clocked as high as 160 kph (99 mph).
Farrell has had plenty of exposure to Japanese pitchers over the years as pitching coach and manager of the Red Sox.
”I’ve come to know the (Japanese) culture through players on our roster, whether it is Daisuke (Matsuzaka) or Hideki Okajima,” said Farrell, who also came here in 2008 when the Red Sox opened the season against the Oakland A’s at Tokyo Dome.
”The more we have Japanese players come to the States, we learn more and more about (their culture) with each and every exposure we have to the players that come to us,” he added.
Farrell said Matt Shoemaker of the Los Angeles Angels will start Game 1 in Osaka while Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners will pitch the first game in Tokyo Dome on Friday. Jeremy Guthrie of the Kansas City Royals will start Game 3 and Chris Capuano of the New York Yankees will start Game 4.
Among the MLB players on the roster who were announced previously are Houston’s Jose Altuve and Colorado’s Justin Morneau – the two league batting champions – and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig.
Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, Washington outfielder Bryce Harper and Baltimore outfielder Adam Jones withdrew because of personal and family commitments, the Major League Baseball Players Association said.