PEORIA, ARIZONA – Pitcher-outfielder Shohei Otani of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters struck out four straight batters in two shutout innings on Wednesday during his first game action of the year against South Korea’s Lotte Giants, and was happy with his progress ahead of the new season.
In a training game watched by over 50 general managers and scouts from the major leagues, Otani allowed a hit with two outs in the first inning but struck out the next and had a perfect second, striking out all three while throwing pitches clocked at 153 kph.
Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels and Toronto Blue Jays scout Ed Lynch, former GM of the Chicago Cubs, were among the crowd.
“(The preparation) has gone smoothly. I’m not ahead of schedule or anything, it’s as usual,” Otani said. “My theme today was not to do with locating but to attack the batter in general, and I’m pretty satisfied.
“It’s only the first game and it’s not where I should push myself. Hopefully I can up my accuracy from here.”
The 21-year-old, whose weight topped 100 kg for the first time with workouts during the preseason, was not fazed by a mass of talent evaluators from the United States, where he voiced his desire to play prior to joining the Fighters in December 2012.
“They were all foreigners so I couldn’t tell who was who,” Otani said.