• Kyodo

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Shohei Otani threw his first official pitches since last autumn, working one inning in a minor league game on Saturday.

The hard-throwing right-hander, who will turn 23 on Wednesday, allowed a run in the first inning of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters’ 5-2 Eastern League win over the Seibu Lions at the Fighters’ minor league facility.

Otani was able to locate his fastball reasonably well, although it lacked some of its usual life, while it hovered around 152 kph. His breaking pitches, however, rarely came anywhere near their mark.

He struck out two batters swinging before Hotaka Yamakawa homered over the center-field wall. Yamakawa blasted a 1-0 fastball that got more of the plate than Otani wanted.

Otani then walked a hitter and hit another with a breaking ball before ending his stint with a flyout.

Because of his injuries, Otani had been exclusively used as a hitter this year and started the season under orders not to run full speed. He injured a left-thigh muscle trying to beat out an infield single on April 8 and didn’t resume play with the first team until Tuesday.

Otani’s previous game as a pitcher had been Game 1 of last year’s Japan Series on Oct. 22.

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