Stewart gets 1st chance against front-line hitters on Friday

SoftBank Hawks right-hander Carter Stewart Jr, who last year became the first marquee American amateur to turn pro with a Japanese team, is scheduled to pitch in Friday’s practice against the Pacific League rival Lotte Marines.

Last season, Stewart was limited to third-team action against amateur and independent minor league opposition. This spring he has pitched for the Hawks’ Western League farm squad in preseason action.

Nippon Professional Baseball was set to open on March 20, but has now been pushed back until April 10 at the earliest because of the new coronavirus outbreak, while all preseason games since Feb. 29 have been played behind closed doors.

For viewers in the US, PL TV is airing practice games and this one is on the schedule for Friday, March 20. HERE’S THE LINK.

Although the preseason exhibition season is now over, teams will begin playing “practice” games from Friday.

Stewart, the eighth overall pick in MLB’s 2018 June draft, said he is slated to throw between 90 and 100 pitches against the Marines.

“I’m going to go out there like I did last week. Obviously, they can hit a little bit better, so maybe they’re going to put me in a little bit tougher situations, but obviously, you’ve still got to perform,” he told reporters in Fukuoka.

Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo, a former pitcher himself, said he was keen to see what Stewart could do now.

“He’s gotten to the point where I want to give him a taste of first-team experience,” Kudo said. “I want to see what kind of pitching he can manage at this stage of his development.”

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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