Seattle – Japanese players, including those who are preparing for their major league debuts, took part in preseason training Wednesday, with the start of the dramatically altered 2020 season approaching later this month.
Left-handed pitcher Yusei Kikuchi, who is entering his second season with the Seattle Mariners after an uneven rookie campaign, threw 40 pitches in live batting practice at T-Mobile Park. He faced 10 batters and struck out three.
"I was worried because it's been a while, but I was able to get ahead in the count. I threw pretty hard today but I'm sure I can increase my velocity," Kikuchi said.
"My throwing mechanics and overall balance aren't bad. I've got to focus on the quality of my pitches."
Shogo Akiyama, the Cincinnati Reds' first Japanese player, batted leadoff and played center field in the team's first three-inning controlled scrimmage at Great American Ball Park. He went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts.
Los Angeles Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani, who made his long-awaited return to the mound against competitive hitters on Tuesday, worked out at Angel Stadium, and Masahiro Tanaka, who remains in concussion protocol, worked out at Yankee Stadium.
Right-hander Shun Yamaguchi, who signed with the Toronto Blue Jays in December after 14 seasons in Japan, threw to live hitters as summer training camp kicked off quietly for the Blue Jays. Most players arrived in Canada Sunday night via charter flight from Florida.
Last Thursday, the Blue Jays announced they had been granted permission to travel back to Canada from their spring training home in Dunedin, Florida. Canada's COVID-19-necessitated travel restrictions forced them to remain in Florida for longer than expected.
Despite being cleared to host the training camp in Toronto, a decision on where the Blue Jays will play their home games has not yet been made.