• Kyodo


Kenta Maeda departed for the United States on Thursday to join spring camp with his new team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the right-hander was in a buoyant mood ahead of the new challenge.

The camp will start on Feb. 20 in Glendale, Arizona, but Maeda has already been pitching in the bullpen during his personal training sessions in Japan.

“I’m thrilled. I’m just looking forward to playing baseball over there,” Maeda said at a news conference at Narita airport. “The preparation has been coming along nicely. I’ve been throwing strong pitches.”

In his rookie year in the big leagues, the weight is on the 27-year-old Maeda’s shoulders to fill the void left by Zack Greinke, who won 19 games for the Dodgers last season and then joined the NL West rival Arizona Diamondbacks.

“I’ll try to accommodate myself to the atmosphere there and acclimatize as soon as I can,” said Maeda, who pitched for the Hiroshima Carp from 2008-15. “I hope to be in the pitching rotation at the start of the season and contribute to the team throughout the year.”

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