Shintaro Fujinami was included on Samurai Japan’s roster for next week’s games against Europe probably because the Hanshin Tigers can give the ball to Randy Messenger, coming off an excellent 2014, or stalwart Atsushi Nomi on opening day. Fujinami is probably the biggest name on the Japan pitching staff, a group made up of good players, though none who might be considered the ace of his club’s staff, or in line for the opening day start.

So Fujinami will be left to mow down the European lineup for a few innings on either Tuesday or Wednesday, while his teammates will continue their preparations for the season at home against the Hiroshima Carp. The Tigers right-hander got in a last bit of work before national duty on Friday against the Seibu Lions, where during a decent outing he turned heads by unfurling three consecutive fastballs clocked at 157 kph during the seventh inning.

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