PEORIA, ARIZONA – In what could be a setback for major league scouts looking to gauge Shohei Otani’s arm, the chances are increasing that he may not pitch in Arizona next month.
The slugging pitcher, who arrived in the Phoenix area on Saturday with his teammates for the first phase of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters’ spring training is reportedly not completely fit.
The Japan Series champs are practicing at the San Diego Padres’ spring training complex for the second straight season. They have a game against a South Korea club slated for Feb. 8 and an intrasquad game set for the following day.
Nippon Ham will wrap up its camp on Feb. 10 and resume training in Okinawa, but Otani and his Samurai Japan teammates will gather in Miyazaki on Feb. 22 for the final preparations ahead of March’s World Baseball Classic.
“We will keep a close eye on his condition,” manager Hideki Kuriyama said of the Pacific League’s Most Valuable Player from last season.