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Last week was one of contrasting fortunes for two of the biggest signings of the NPB offseason, writes Jason Coskrey.

Eric Thames and Justin Smoak finally got on the field for the Yomiuri Giants on April 27, after having their arrival to Japan delayed by coronavirus travel restrictions and then weeks of quarantine. While Smoak’s first week went well, Thames’ first season in NPB ended in injury just three innings into his first game.

The club won its first two games of the week but had a couple of surprises waiting back at home against the Chunichi Dragons. The Dragons also won two games against the Hanshin Tigers to end the week 4-1.

Shohei Ohtani | 2021 HIGHLIGHTS OF APRIL | SPORTZ MEDIA 29
Shohei Ohtani | 2021 HIGHLIGHTS OF APRIL | SPORTZ MEDIA 29

In the Pacific League, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters’ week came to a premature end after seven players tested positive for the virus. Their series against the Chiba Lotte Marines was also called off.

In the majors, Shohei Ohtani is questionable (as of writing) for his scheduled start Monday after being hit in his pitching arm by a fastball during the Los Angeles Angels’ 2-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners.

San Jose Padre Yu Darvish struck out 12 to improve to 3-1 Friday, while the Mariners’ Yusei Kikuchi pitched his first win of the season Thursday and the Minnesota Twins’ Kenta Maeda took his second loss two days earlier.

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