While Hokkaido Nippon Ham rookie Sho Nakata continues to turn heads at the plate during the exhibition season it may be a pair of rookie hurlers that make the biggest difference this year.

Tohoku Rakuten’s Kohei Hasebe was impressive in his open-sen debut against the Chiba Lotte Marines, making his case for a spot in Katsuya Nomura’s rotation by retiring the first 10 batters he faced and striking out five, last weekend in Nagasaki.

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