Five developments from the zone where U.S. and Japanese baseball meet:
- For Japanese fans and LA Angels supporters, the signs coming out of spring training are good vis-a-vis Shohei Otani. Among the highlights for the two-way star have been a monster homer against the Rangers and striking out five batters in his pitching debut following months out with injury.
- Seattle Mariners leaders have vowed to move on after the furor over comments made by ex-CEO and president Kevin Mather, who resigned last month after his insulting comments toward some players and groups were made public. Among them were remarks about Hisashi Iwakuma’s “terrible” English.
- Around 20 foreign players who joined Japanese clubs in the offseason have been in limbo since Japan closed its borders Jan. 4. For the new signees, the travel ban is a layered problem, reports The New York Times, and even when Japan reopens, there’ll be visas to arrange and quarantine to come.
- In an era long before pro ballplayers ached to move to Japan to boost their careers back home, Greg “Boomer” Wells went from exile to icon, as the nation’s baseball community adopted him and made him a member of its close-knit family. Kyodo caught up with Wells for some insights into the way things were in the very different baseball world of the 1980s.
- Foul balls go into the stands during every baseball game, be it in the MLB or the NPB. The difference is, in Japan, stadiums are more likely to have netting to protect fans from serious injuries. One activist is on a mission to convince MLB teams to learn from Japan on this issue, reports Jason Coskrey.