• Kyodo

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Shohei Otani will be taken off the 28-man roster for the upcoming World Baseball Classic, Samurai Japan skipper Hiroki Kokubo said Friday.

Otani will be replaced with another starting pitcher on the final roster, which must be submitted by Monday’s deadline.

“The condition (of his ankle) hasn’t reached a level we had hoped. We’re not in a position where we can ask him to push it,” said Kokubo, who revealed that he notified Otani of the decision over the phone.

The two-way player for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters had been suffering from pain in his right ankle, which he injured while base running in Game 4 of the Japan Series on Oct. 26.

Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama said Thursday at the team’s spring training site in Peoria, Arizona, that it is unlikely Otani will start on Opening Day for the third straight year in the March 31 home opener against the Seibu Lions.

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