Scott McGough was planning to use his time off during the All-Star break to head down to Enoshima, Kanagawa Prefecture. He was going to walk around and see the sights and then maybe relax on a beach somewhere.
That was the plan at least, before his getaway turned into a working weekend. Not that you’ll find the Tokyo Yakult Swallows reliever complaining.
The beach is nice and all, but being named to the All-Star team is probably a little bit better.
“It’s what one of my goals was,” McGough told The Japan Times before the first game of the All-Star Series at Tokyo Dome on Friday. “It’s just an incredible experience and I’m just honored I was asked to do this. This is everything I’ve always dreamt of and just to be part of this and see all the players and different talent and talk to them, it’s awesome.”
McGough was a late addition to the All-Star festivities. He was added to the Central League roster just two days ago, replacing teammate Taichi Ishiyama, who has the flu.
McGough was honored to be asked and eager to participate.
“It’s been amazing,” he said. “I love just talking to some of the guys about different pitches. Or to some of the hitters, just seeing them and joking around with them is really cool.”
McGough is in his first season in Japan. He made 43 appearances for the Swallows during the first half and was 4-1 with three saves and 12 holds out of the bullpen. He struck out 40 batters in his 46 innings on the mound and went into the break with a 2.93 ERA.
“I wish we won a little bit more (Yakult is 34-48-2 and in sixth place in the CL), but I’ve thrown a lot and I feel like I’ve done my best to help the team,” McGough said. “I’m just trying to keep doing that everyday, just keep working and talk to the coaches and other pitchers and try to get better.”
The 29-year-old never participated in the MLB All-Star Game, but had been an All-Star in the minors.
“(Those were) great experiences because that’s like the young talent coming up, working their way up the pipeline,” said McGough, who appeared in six games (all in relief) in 2015 for the Miami Marlins. “So it was really, really cool, really exciting. But this is just on a different level. The excitement and atmosphere and the people and the talent that’s here is just really, really good.”
McGough and the Swallows didn’t have the first half they’d hoped and will be trying to fight their way out of the CL cellar when play resumes on Monday.
But Yakult is 6-2 over its past eight games and McGough is hoping the Birds can keep it going into the second half.
“I feel like toward the end of the first half we started winning some games, we turned some things around,” he said. “We just had a team meeting about that before the end of the first half and we talked about continuing that and keep working on the weaknesses and staying with our positives. We’re going to keep trying to do that.
“I feel like a lot of guys are starting to come around and we’re starting to work better as a team, so it should be good.”