When Dave Winfield was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 1973, it was as a pitcher. When he entered the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001, it was because of his career as a batter and outfielder. He briefly played both positions in college, and when he looks at the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters’ Shohei Otani today, Winfield sees a kindred spirit.
The Hall of Famer is accompanying the Major League All-Stars on their tour of Japan this year, in his capacity as a special assistant to Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark, and got the chance to see Otani’s brief pitching appearance in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the MLB-Japan All-Star Series on Wednesday at Kyocera Dome. Otani was impressive in retiring all three batters he faced and was throwing his fastball in the mid 150s.