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Tone joins Samurai Japan squad; Osera pulls out

Kyodo

Second-year Yomiuri Giants lefty Chiaki Tone was named on Sunday to Japan’s national team for its international exhibition games against Taiwan in March, while Hiroshima Carp right-hander Daiichi Osera pulled out.

The 23-year-old Tone pitched in 46 games last season, compiling a 1-1 record with one save and five holds and a 2.88 earned run average in 40⅔ innings.

“This is the first time in my (baseball) career to wear the Hinomaru (Japan’s flag on my uniform) and I feel a sense of exaltation,” Tone said.

Osera, looking to regain his rotation spot after being shunted to the bullpen last June, complained of discomfort in his right elbow during training a day earlier.

“I went into the bullpen but couldn’t pitch with much strength,” Osera said at the Carp’s spring camp in Okinawa. “It will only cause troubles if I go (to the national team) with anxiety. I’m not sure if I can make the start of the season, but I thought about what’s best to be back at an early stage even if I can’t make it (opening day).”

Osera was 1-6 last season with a 3.43 ERA in nine starts, but 2-2 with two saves and 20 holds and a 2.76 ERA relief. His fitness has not been quite where it should be this spring but he threw hard in a simulated game on Wednesday.

“I thought it was better to have it examined early,” Osera said. “I reached this decision after considering the best way to minimize trouble for the Carp.”

Samurai Japan’s games against Taiwan, a year before the start of the next World Baseball Classic, will be on March 5 at Nagoya Dome and the following day at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.