Category Archives: Baseball

Shohei Ohtani press conference Part 3

This is the third part of my translation of Shohei Ohtani’s press conference on Thursday, Nov. 22 at Japan’s National Press Club in Tokyo. Sorry for the delay, in getting the next part out. I appreciate your patience.

—At some point, you may have to choose whether to hit or pitch?

“At this time, I’m not thinking of that at all. I can imagine a case where I’d be employed mostly as a pinch hitter at the end of the season or asked to play mostly in the field. It’s not about that being good or bad, but, I think, something that comes with life as a pro ballplayer. I think that path will occur naturally.”

“One could also say that deciding on such a (specialized) course from the very start is unusual. If one looks at it that way, there wouldn’t be anything to consider at the stage I’m currently at. In the natural course of things, it may become a possibility, but at the present, I cannot imagine (specializing).”



—What things are you considering ahead of next season?

“Next season I will mainly be employed as a batter, so it will be a little different from this season when unfortunately I was sidelined at a crucial time for the team. I don’t know from what point I’ll be able to play in real games, but once I do rejoin the team, I want to contribute, improve and compete alongside my teammates until the end of the season.”


—Did you know about the custom of the first-home run silent treatment?

“I didn’t know about it at all. My first impression was that something might be going on but I didn’t understand. After they got me, however, I was happy that they made time to do that for me.”

“Going forward I want to hit a lot more home runs, and if we can do more things like that (stunt), I think it would make us a better team. From next season I’ll do my best to hit a lot of home runs.”



—How would you rate this past season (on a scale of 1-100)?

“I don’t give myself scores, so I wouldn’t do that, but having already mentioned about being sidelined I would say that if I did rate myself, I wouldn’t give out a very good score.”

—Did you communicate with your old Fighters teammates?

“Yes, I often had contact with teammates from my time with Nippon Ham so I thought maybe there’d be a chance to meet them. It’s not so much like I have something to say, but that’s how it’s been even until today.”


—How does it look for your return as a batter?

“With each step of one or two weeks, I meet the training and medical staff about the next step. There is a kind of schedule template, but the reality is completely different. People vary, conditions change, so you cannot say, ‘This stage is going be this long.'”


—You wore a red necktie to America, the color of your sponsor Japan Airlines. Is there a reason for today’s black tie?

“None at all.”


—Your biography is now on sale in America. Did you know that?

“No. I didn’t know that. But, it makes me happy.”


—Was there any music you liked in America?

“Nothing like that at all. Music is playing in the locker room, but you hear the same songs a lot. What those songs are called I don’t know, but it seems they’re comparable, the same kind of music.”


(Editors note: Wait a minute. Not even “Despacito?”)

Lions Kikuchi ready to roll into posting circus

Yusei Kikuchi will be posted on Dec. 3, the Seibu Lions said Friday as they held their victory parade and fan appreciation day in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture. With captain and second baseman Hideto Asamura leaving as a free agent for the Rakuten Eagles and former No. 1 catcher Ginjiro Sumitani reportedly set to move to the Central League’s Yomiuri Giants, the Lions’ chances of defending their Pacific League championship in 2019 are taking huge hits.

Asamaura’s departure is the second major player the Lions have turned over to the Eagles in recent years, following the move of star right-hander Takayuki Kishi two years ago.

Elsewhere, Hiroshima Carp center fielder Yoshihiro Maru, a good bet to win his second-straight CL MVP award next week, has been courted by the PL’s Lotte Marines and the Giants, while the Carp remain hopeful of bringing him back. Maru is a native of Chiba Prefecture, and by filing for domestic free agency this year, has forfeited his chances of moving to the majors next season as an unrestricted free agent–unless as some have hinted that he signs with a team willing to post him.

It’s hard to see how that would happen since the new posting system awards posting fees based on contract value, and the market isn’t likely to be that strong for a Japanese center fielder with some pop, defense and good plate discipline who will be adjusting to MLB at the age of 30.

While the Carp wait on Maru’s decision, they have handed manager Koichi Ogata a one-year contract extension for what will be his fifth season at Mazda Stadium. He is only the second manager in CL history to lead the same team to three straight championships, though that’s a bit of a red herring since the other guy was Tetsuharu Kawakami and he did it nine times.