• Kyodo


Shohei Otani is expected to start for the Fighters in Thursday’s home game against the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, Hokkaido Nippon Ham manager Hideki Kuriyama said Tuesday.

If all goes as planned, Otani will start for the second time this season and for the first since July 12, when he took the loss after allowing four runs and two hits while issuing three walks in 1-1/3 innings in the Fighters’ 6-3 loss to the Orix Buffaloes in Osaka.

The 23-year-old right-hander is scheduled to toss up to 60 pitches at Sapporo Dome on Thursday.

“As usual, I will just try as hard as possible to keep (the opponents) from scoring,” said Otani, who threw 24 pitches in the bullpen on Tuesday in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, where the three-game series opener between Nippon Ham and SoftBank was rained out.

Kuriyama said Otani’s pitching form is “not perfect” in terms of balance but the hurler has made the necessary preparations.

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