Saito gets nod to start against Lotte


The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters said Tuesday that rookie right-hander Yuki Saito, who has been sidelined with a strained right oblique muscle, will be the scheduled starter for a game against the Chiba Lotte Marines on Wednesday at Sapporo Dome.

Saito, who joined the top team the same day, threw about 40 pitches in a bullpen session.

“My form is fine. My teammates all gave me a great welcome back, so I was happy,” said Saito, who will make his first start for the top team since complaining of pain in his left side in the first inning of a game against the Softbank Hawks on May 8.

Saito, who turned 23 on June 6, made three starts with the club’s farm team. He held the Yomiuri Giants minor league team to two earned runs in seven innings last Tuesday.

“His form hasn’t changed much. That means he’s doing just fine,” said Fighters pitching coach Masato Yoshii.