• Kyodo


Chiba Lotte Marines ace Yoshihisa Naruse threw four scoreless innings in his preseason debut on Friday in a 6-2 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium.

Naruse, who has been named to start on Opening Day by Marines manager Tsutomu Ito, allowed three hits without a walk while dealing with a fastball that sat around 130 kph.

“I think I’d like to see a little more speed, but as far as the results go he shut them down like clockwork,” Ito said. “I don’t see any problem.”

With light snow falling, the 28-year-old lefty painted the corners with his little fastball and breaking stuff, leaving the Tigers hitters precious little to hit.

“I’m glad I could pitch the way I usually do in my first preseason game,” Naruse said. “It didn’t feel that cold during the game.

“I worked well on the outside against the right-handed batters, but I didn’t pitch well inside to them.”

For his spring debut, Naruse was paired with rookie catcher Yuta Yoshida, and the ace showed awareness of his role on the team by talking things over with the youngster prior to the game.

Yoshida, meanwhile, continued his steady hitting. In the second inning, the Marines’ second-round draft pick drove a low breaking ball from the Tigers lefty Daiki Enokida down the left-field line for a two-out, two-run double. Although the right-handed-hitting rookie was unable to get down a sacrifice bunt in the fifth inning, he singled in the sixth.

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