Shohei Otani spent part of his Saturday afternoon being shepherded around one of Makuhari Messe's spacious international exhibition halls while having ham shoved in his mouth.

The stuff was everywhere too, raw, peppered, on pizza, in curry and that was just the tip of the iceberg. At the center this buta matsuri that was the Nippon Ham product presentation ceremony, was the Fighters' 2012 rookie class, led by Otani, prized pitcher and veritable guest of honor, and manager Hideki Kuriyama.

They moved from stall to stall, followed by a sizable contingent of fans — kept at arm's length by a crew of red-jacketed staffers — nearly all wielding a camera or smart phone. Otani ate, fans snapped, and the caravan moved along.