Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Seibu catcher Mori struggles behind plate during practice game

Kyodo

Young Seibu Lions slugger Tomoya Mori showed Wednesday that his quest to become a full-fledged professional catcher is not going to be easy.

The 20-year-old Mori, who is registered as a catcher and formed a high school battery with Hanshin Tigers pitcher Shintaro Fujinami, has spent most of his 179 first-team games as a designated hitter, showing an impressive ability to hit for power and reach base despite his age.

This spring, however, Mori has set a target of earning playing time behind the plate.

He caught for the Lions in a practice game against the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles on Wednesday, but could only demonstrate that he has a long way to go. Mori’s pitch selection made it easier for the Rakuten hitters to pepper pitchers Andy Van Hekken and Ryoma Nogami.

“On the whole, his weak points were noticeable,” Lions manager Norio Tanabe said. “If he doesn’t raise his game a little more, it’s going to be very hard.”

Mori, who went hitless at the plate, said, “It’s up to me to do a thorough job.”

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