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Tanaka begins major league quest

Kyodo

Veteran lefty Toshiya Sugiuchi returned to serious throwing for the first time in three months on Monday.

The 32-year-old Sugiuchi, who felt pain in his shoulder toward the end of last season, did not pitch as the Yomiuri Giants won the Central League Climax Series and Japan Series. Sugiuchi is currently among 33 candidates to play for Japan in March’s World Baseball Classic.

“I was a little concerned, but I’m happy that I could throw without any trouble,” said Sugiuchi, who played catch before going to the bullpen and throwing 34 pitches from the mound.

“I wasn’t throwing full strength but I was able to go about 80 percent.”

If Sugiuchi makes manager Koji Yamamoto’s team for the WBC, he’ll be the only player on the Japan roster to have participated in all three tournaments.

“That’s what I’m aiming for,” he said. “So I am going to prepare as best as I can.”

Despite uncertainty over his physical condition, Sugiuchi said he feels more relaxed heading into his second spring with the Giants. In his first Central League season after leaving the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks as a free agent, Sugiuchi went 12-4 with a 2.04 ERA and threw a no-hitter.

“As long as I get pumped up when things get going again, I’ll be fine,” he said.