For Chihiro Kaneko, it starts now. The questions about his future and the maelstrom of media attention that will have grown to a fevered pitch by the time it's time to face the issue.

Before, free agency questions could be neatly parried with a reminder that Kaneko had not fulfilled the requirements yet. Well, that ended Sunday, when the Orix Buffaloes righty qualified for domestic free agency.

Kaneko doesn't have to commit to anything now, but he will at some point (to exercise the option or not), and many, especially Orix fans, will await his decision with bated breath. Though with the season ongoing, the soft-spoken pitcher probably won't say much beyond the standard proclamations of being focused only on the present and so forth.