Yoshinobu Yamamoto, 26, the ace player of the Japanese pro baseball, will likely have no problem making a soft landing in the Major League. Shohei Ohtani, 30, a man of 700 million dollars, is firmly guarding Yamamoto. Yamamoto also feels this feeling and is stepping up his bid to the Major League.꽁머니지급
“MLB.com ” reported on the 12th (Korea time) that Yamamoto made his second bullpen pitching at a spring camp held at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona. According to the media, dozens of people, including Ohtani, manager Dave Roberts, and general manager Brandon Gomes, watched. The media then added, “Ohtani watched almost every pitch impressively.”
After watching Yamamoto’s second bullpen pitching, Roberts said, “Every ball he threw was intentional. This speaks to his ability to dominate baseball. We had a conversation after bullpen pitching, and Yamamoto said he liked his bullpen pitching. It was the most notable point.”
Yamamoto is a special ace who recorded 70 wins and 29 losses with an ERA of 1.82 922 strikeouts in 172 games (897 innings) in the Japanese professional baseball league. Last year, he recorded 16 wins and 6 losses with an ERA of 1.23 169 strikeouts in 23 games (164 innings), becoming the first player in the history of Japanese professional baseball to win four consecutive pitchers (multiple wins, ERA, strikeouts, and winning percentage) for the third consecutive year, while also winning the Sawamura Award and the Pacific League MVP award for the third consecutive year. This is the second time that he has won the Sawamura Award for three consecutive years since Masaiichi Kaneda (1956-1958), and the third time that he has won the MVP award for three consecutive years since Ichiro Suzuki (1994-1996).
After finishing the Japanese Series as runner-up last year, Yamamoto quickly became the biggest fish for an FA pitcher in the Major League. Many teams that wanted to beef up starting pitchers started recruiting Yamamoto, but the Dodgers was the ultimate winner. By signing a 12-year contract of 325 million U.S. dollars with the Dodgers, he has surpassed Gerrit Cole (Yankees, nine-year 324 million dollars), setting a new Major League pitcher record.
However, I still have doubts about Yamamoto. He has a lot of challenges to adapt to in the Major League, including his small physique (5 feet 10 inches, 178 centimeters) and his five-man rotation. Yamamoto has acknowledged this to himself. “I have never had a shorter break,” Yamamoto said in an interview with local media, but stressed, “I prepared everything I could by adjusting the pitching mechanics and doing many other things. I will continue making adjustments if necessary.”
The Dodgers is also desperate for Yamamoto’s success, as it has invested a lot of money. It is natural to provide both water and physical support. “It is important to create the best environment for Yamamoto to succeed,” Andrew Friedman, president of the baseball division, told The Athletic. “His talent is very unique. His ability to command baseball is amazing, too. It requires a lot of fairy tales. It needs to be assimilated with a new culture between the lifestyle, the part of the baseball field, and the starting lineup. As a player who will be a big part of what we have to do in 2024, we will watch and see how he is recovering. We will try to adapt and solve problems this year.”
Manager Dave Roberts also said, “There will be a curve in which the league learns Yamamoto and Yamamoto learns the league,” and explained that Yamamoto will flexibly adjust the interval between pitches.
Both the team and its teammates are helping Yamamoto adapt to the new stage. Dodgers infielder Miguel Rojas presented a bottle of wine to his new teammate, Yamamoto’s locker. It was a welcoming gift. “I wanted them to feel welcome,” Rojas said, explaining the reason for the gift. Yamamoto immediately thanked him by sharing a letter and gifts from Rojas on his SNS account.
However, Otani is the strongest supporter of the Japanese pro baseball and Major League Baseball. Otani signed a 10-year, 700-million-dollar contract with the Dodgers this year, but he is already a superstar of superstars. MLB.com said, “There is an advantage for Yamamoto and the Dodgers. It means that there is a player named Ohtani in the club house who had to deal with the same challenges when he arrived from Japan in the 2018 season,” adding, “Otani and Yamamoto are sharing a locker room right next to the club house in Camelback Ranch. Both players wanted to play in Los Angeles, and the relationship will develop further.”
Yamamoto said, “I feel reassured just to have Otani in the clubhouse and on the same team. I feel like Otani is behind me and I’m receiving a lot of support,” explaining Otani’s strong presence.