Tag Archives: Yoshihisa Hirano

NPB news: March 30, 2024

Orix’s imports put on a show Saturday, and someone will have to tell preseason batting champ, Ryuki Watarai that pitchers are now actually trying to get him out in the regular season, because the rookie remains unstoppable at the top of the BayStars’ batting order.

Saturday’s games

Buffaloes 2, Hawks 0: At Osaka UFO Dome, Venezuelan newcomer Anderson Espinoza walked four but struck out three, and got Hotaka Yamakawa to hit into a pair of double plays over six scoreless innings.

Espinoza left with a 2-0 lead after compatriot Leo Cedeno blasted his first homer of the season, fulfilling a pre-game promise to his compatriot.

“Espinoza appeared to be nervous, understandably so, in his first Japan start, which made me a little nervous, too. But he got better as he went along,” manager Satoshi Nakajima said.

Continue reading NPB news: March 30, 2024

Yuki Matsui speaks

New San Diego Padres reliever Yuki Matsui met members of the English and Japanese language media online Wednesday morning Japan time, and spoke about Yu Darvish, his adjustments and hopes for the future among other things.

Matsui, 28, became the youngest player to record 200 saves in Japan in 2023, a year that started dismally in the World Baseball Classic, when he couldn’t control the MLB ball and pitched just one inning.

“I received a couple of offers. I was talking to a couple of teams. The Padres were the first that presented me with an offer. From the start, I thought the Padres were really serious about acquiring me. Going into my MLB career, I thought it would be a good fit for me.”

To close or not to close

“I’ve been the last guy out of the bullpen, but I haven’t thrown a single pitch in America, so I am not thinking I should be that last guy right from the start. I need to adjust, reliably get outs, and earn trust in the chances I get.”

That being said, people have mentioned his career save total and where he sits in a tie for sixth with Masahide Kobayashi among primarily NPB pitchers with the most career major league saves–Rich Gossage, with eight saves in Japan would be fourth all-time, but I digress:

Hitoki Iwase407000407
Kazuhiro Sasaki25212900381
Shingo Takatsu28627826347
Yoshihisa Hirano*242800250
Kyuji Fujikawa243200245
Masahide Kobayashi228800236
Yuki Matsui*236000236
Dennis Sarfate234000234
Yasuaki Yamasaki*227000227
*– Indicates active pitcher

“Of course, I know it won’t be easy (to earn the closer’s job). It will be down to my showing all I can do and then leaving it up to the competition. My job is to win, and I can’t predict where I’ll fit into the team plan.”

“But when people talk about save totals from Japan and MLB, I want to move forward in that respect. There are two great players just ahead of me (Yoshihisa Hirano and Kyuji Fujikawa) who I really respect, and if I can surpass them this year it would indeed be a great year.”

— note: Matsui didn’t name Hirano or Fujikawa, so I’m speculating. He could easily have meant Kobayashi and Fujikawa, who are both retired. Catching Hirano would, however, make it a heck of a year, since Hirano is still active in Japan and saved 29 games last year at the age of 39.

Yu’s got a friend

Although Shohei Ohtani was the on-field MVP for Japan at the World Baseball Classic, more than anyone, it was Yu Darvish’s team. After going deep into the 2022 postseason, Darvish sacrificed the bulk of his spring training preparations in order to join Samurai Japan in Miyazaki on the first day of camp, Feb. 17.

“For me personally, he’s a big presence, and a big reason why I joined this team. We were together for a month during the WBC, and he is was a role model, of course in baseball, but also in life. He made every one of this think, ‘This is the kind of man I want to be. This is the kind of ballplayer I want to be.’ To be able to play alongside him and be around him, helped me lean toward the Padres.”

Continue reading Yuki Matsui speaks