Fort Myers, Florida – Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli on Sunday said right-hander Kenta Maeda will start in his team’s opening day game against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 1.
The 32-year-old Japanese, who is coming off a season in which he finished second in American League Cy Young voting, was tasked with starting on opening day five times for the Hiroshima Carp in Japan, but this will be his first opportunity in the majors.
“When I first came over to MLB, being an Opening Day starter was something that I never dreamed of,” said Maeda, who starred for the Carp before signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016.
“This is an unbelievably happy event. I’m feeling better about my game so I hope to keep that up,” he said.
Baldelli revealed he called Maeda into his office on Tuesday after a spring training start to deliver the news.
Maeda was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers last February and went 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 66⅔ innings over 11 starts in 2020.
He has thrown nine scoreless innings during spring training this year and given up just one hit while striking out 12.
The Brewers expect to have between 11,000 and 12,000 fans in the stands at American Family Field, renamed from Miller Park this season, when they open their 2021 season April 1.
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