For the second straight spring, Japan manager Hiroki Kokubo opted to take a group of middle rotation starters to what he calls his “best team” ahead of March’s spring internationals.
“Looking ahead one year from now (to the World Baseball Classic), these are the top players at this moment,” Kokubo told a press conference in Naha on Monday, when he announced his squad for two games against Taiwan on March 5 and 6.
Right. The reason for leaving Shohei Otani, Shintaro Fujinami and a few others off the team is that they are candidates to start the season for their teams on March 25 and selecting them for national team duty 10 days before that could hinder their preparations.
Huh? The best pitchers in Japan can’t figure out how to start on Opening Day after pitching a few innings 10 or 11 days earlier. Something is definitely wrong with that.
The rationale makes as much sense as Kokubo’s explanation for the timing of his pitching changes in the ninth inning of Japan’s Premier 12 semifinal in November.