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22.06.2018

Japan’s pitching/hitting stud ‘intriguing’ for Joe Girardi.

Joe Girardi’s attention remains on the Yankees’ pursuit of a playoff spot, but even he can’t help himself from keeping an eye on Shohei Otani, the Japanese star who is expected to be in the majors next season. “He’s definitely intriguing,’’ Girardi said before the Yankees faced the Rays on Wednesday at Citi Field, a...
Time: 14:18     Date: 13.09.2017
Last US Sport News: Japan’s pitching/hitting stud ‘intriguing’ for Joe Girardi. NY Post 24 - US News

“He’s definitely intriguing,’’ Girardi said before the Yankees faced the Rays on Wednesday at Citi Field, a day after reports surfaced in Japan that the 23-year-old who pitches and plays the outfield would leave Japan following this season.

“Obviously, I haven’t really seen him,” Girardi said. “But you hear reports on him.”

Many of them include the possibility of him carrying his two-way status to the majors.

“I was asked, ‘Could a guy pitch and DH some?’” Girardi said. “It’s possible. You’d be concerned a little bit the day before his start, but it does create a unique situation where if he’s able to DH, it kind of opens up another spot on your roster. To me, if you want go to a six-man rotation, it becomes a lot easier.”

Of course, being a starting pitcher and occasional outfielder or DH figures to be more taxing in the majors than it is in Japan, where Otani has dominated in both areas of the game.

Tanaka added Otani, and whichever team signs him, would have to manage expectations.

“I think it’s about where you draw the line with being successful as both pitcher and a batter,” Tanaka said. “Perhaps it’s not possible to win 20 games and hit 50 home runs, but it’s where you draw that line of being successful. You’ve got to give him a chance – if he’s gonna go about doing it.”

Tanaka worked out with Otani in Japan last offseason and while he hasn’t stayed in contact with him, Tanaka knows that Otani has battled ankle and thigh injuries that have limited him to two starts so far this year.

Scouts from at least 16 teams have gone to Japan to watch Otani this year, including Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.

Cashman has declined to comment on Otani, since he is still property of another team.

The Dodgers, Mariners, Giants and Rangers are among other potential landing spots.

If Otani does end up getting posted by Hokkaido, the team that signs him would owe Hokkaido $20 million, but limited to the international pool money, since Otani isn’t 25.

That also means that Otani is costing himself a potentially huge contract in two years and would instead get a signing bonus likely in the $5-$10 million range, playing for the major league minimum — a far cry from the seven-year, $155 million deal Tanaka signed with the Yankees in 2014.

“I can’t speak for everybody, but I think a lot of players coming from Japan to play here are not so much about money,’’ Tanaka said. “They just want to come here and go through the challenge. They want to challenge themselves with how well they can play here in the big leagues.”

Girardi said it would be impressive for someone like Otani to make that kind of sacrifice.

“He’d probably get a pretty good salary over here, but he probably wants to compete against the best,’’ Girardi said. “I think that’s great. I think that’s what’s in every competitor’s heart. They want to match up against the best and see how they fare.”

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