Teen pitcher Otani ‘refreshed’ to play for Fighters


The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters introduced hard-throwing teenager Shohei Otani to the press on Tuesday after the club kept him in Japan by signing him to his first pro contract.

Otani had announced his decision to turn pro with a major league club in November prior to be being named as the Fighters’ first-round draft pick. The Pacific League champions then orchestrated a successful campaign to persuade the youngster to start his career in Nippon Professional Baseball.

“I feel refreshed and I have a really strong desire to do my best,” he told a news conference.

The Hanamaki Higashi High School product signed for a 2013 salary of ¥15 million with a ¥100 million signing bonus and ¥50 million in performance-based incentives — the maximum figures allowed by NPB for a first-year pro.

Otani will wear the same number that Yu Darvish wore with the Fighters, No. 11.