Otsuka, Ishii reaffirm word

Texas Rangers right-hander Akinori Otsuka and Yakult Swallows left-hander Hirotoshi Ishii on Friday quelled concerns that they might withdraw from Japan’s 30-man World Baseball Classic squad.

The two relievers formally informed manager Sadaharu Oh of their intention to participate.

Otsuka, traded from the San Diego only recently, had been called by the Rangers to join their spring training, instead of playing for his country in the 16-nation tournament.

Meanwhile, Ishii has been in deadlocked talks with the Swallows as the team refuses to put the closer up for auction, a move that would pave his way to pitch in the major leagues.

“We had some withdrawals along the way, but were able to form a good team finally. It’s a great chance to let other nations know our baseball is world class,” Oh said.

New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui and Chicago White Sox infielder Tadahito Iguchi withdrew from the WBC, deciding to return to their respective teams for spring training.