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Shohei Otani News and Notes: December 10, 2012

by on Dec.10, 2012 @ 3:30 pm, under NPB

[If you are looking for more Otani information, be sure to check the Shohei Otani tag]

Shohei Otani updates from December 10:

Daily Sports

The Fighters, including GM Masao Yamada and Hideki Kuriyama, visited Hanamaki Higashi High School today and apologized to school officials, including manager Hiroshi Sasaki, for all the problems they caused after they decided to select Otani during the draft.  Their meeting lasted about an hour.

Source: Daily Sports 12/10/2012

Kuriyama on his plans for Otani:

"We will consider all options and remove the ones that do not fit. ... For me, it does not matter that [Otani] is eighteen years old.  If he has the ability, then he needs to play at the Ichi-gun level."

Source: Daily Sports 12/10/2012

Sports Hochi

Senichi Hoshino on the potential problems Otani's signing with the Fighters presents:

"If he was going to play in Japan, then we would have selected him.  [Otani] decides his own future, but this will become a bit of a problem.  If [players] do this, then the draft no longer has any meaning. ... He held a press conference and it seemed like he was going to the US after not being selected in the draft.  He is from this area, so he is a pitcher we needed to select.  I do not want to think that they had an agreement from the start and I do not necessarily think they did... The entire draft needs to be done in snake format.  Up until now, there were rules like reverse selections, it was all half-baked.  The rules are not keeping up. ... I am sure this will be brought up during a board of directors meeting or an owners meeting.  The commissioner needs to speak up on this."

Source: Sports Hochi 12/10/2012


Fourteen TV cameras and about one hundred members of the media covered Otani's press conference on Sunday.

Source: Sanspo 12/10/2012

The Fighters will likely hold an official press conference for Otani some time around Christmas (before or after).  The press conference could be held at Sapporo Dome.

Source: Sanspo 12/10/2012

Sanspo has also posted portions of the press conference:

What are the results of the negotiations?

Today, I informed the Nippon Ham Fighters that I would like to sign with them.  I feel bad for inconveniencing many people.  The manager of Hanamaki Higashi, Japanese baseball, the people that visited me from America, those that supported my decision to play in the Majors.  I am sorry. I initially decided on going to the Majors because I was thought of highly since my first year of high school.  From here on, as a member of the Fighters, I would like to give back to those that helped me, to those from my home town, by having them watch me play.  I would like to become a player kids can look up to.

What was the main reason why you decided to sign [with the Fighters]?

At first, I thought it would be best to go to America from the start in order to have a long and successful career.  But that changed over time as I spoke to the Fighters.

Are there any things Kuriyama said that stuck out?

He told me that he wanted me to travel down a path no one else walked down.  I would like to become the kind of player that can do that.

Is there anything you would like to say for the Fighters' fans?  Or to your new teammates?

I would be happy if I can do something for the people of Hokkaido.  I would also like to meet the fans as soon as possible.  I would like to make use of my skills to help the team.

What made you decide to sign?

The materials they provided contained things I did not know.  At first, I did not consider the option of being a hitter and pitcher.  Things like that.

What is your image of Hokkaido?

I have never been there.  The team colors look similar to my high school colors.  Their young players are working hard.  They appear to be a wonderful team.  I will do my best to make the fans happy by helping [the team] with what I can do in my first year.

Your thoughts on being a hitter/pitcher?

I want to be a pitcher, but I am not sure which I really want to do.  There is a part of me that would like to try both out, [so being able to do both] made me happy.

Where do you imagine yourself five years, tens years from now.

I ultimately want to play in the Majors.  It is a place I dream about.  The Fighters showed me a new path to the destination.

On the number eleven.

I am happy about it.  It is a special number so I want to do my best.

About your goal for winning a championship.

I could not win a championship in high school.  And I have not been able to put up results on a national scale.  I would like to reset my goals and win a championship with the Fighters and become a [big-time] pitcher.

About the Majors.

I do not think I am at a level where I can compete [at that level].  I had the option and decided to remain in Japan.  I would like to become a pitcher that can handle [the Majors].

When did your feelings about the Fighters begin to change?

My family respected my opinion.  At first I wanted to go early in order to have a long and successful career.  That changed little by little after I received their materials.  I made my final decision after speaking it over with everyone.

Did you struggle with the decision?

There was a time I felt very badly for the problems I caused to all the people that respected my decision to play in the Majors.  But my concerns slowly went away as I spoke [to the Fighters].

Thoughts about 1st round draft pick Fujinami?

We played together on the national team.  Right now, I think he is ahead of me, but I would like to do my best so that I can grow and overtake him and play [at the same level] with him.

Source: Sanspo 12/10/2012


Otani's press conference on Sunday lasted about twenty-six minutes.  More than being happy about his decision to sign with the Fighters, he seemed concerned about all the problems he caused.

Source: Spoonichi 12/10/2012

Yu Darvish's father is apparently not too happy about the Fighters' decision to reassign the number eleven after just one year.  He would like to the team to take better care of their team's history.

"I am in no position to say anything about Otani-kun," said Farsa Darvish.

He continued, "Ichiro's number fifty-one is protected by Orix.  [But the Fighters' gave away] Ogasawara's number.  He did more than Yu.  I would like them to become a team that values their history more. ... [Other teams in] Japan and the US take better care of their history."

Source: Sponichi 12/10/2012, Sponichi 12/10/2012

Sponichi has posted portions of what Kuriyama said during Otani's press conference on Sunday.

What are you current thoughts?

More than feeling happy, I am feeling the weight of responsibility.  The Fighters are moving forward with conviction, but by selecting [Otani] we created problems for the high school officials and for the people around him.  I will do my absolute best to make sure Otani's [decision to join the Fighters] works out for his future.

What are you plans for him for spring camp?

I do have an idea, but it is still a big vague.  In terms of starting him off as a hitter/pitcher, there are no precedents so I will have to talk things over with the others.

What are you expectations for his first year?

More than numbers, I would like to see him do something great/special during an Ichi-gun game.  I think he could also help motivate some of our players with his young energy.

Do you see him as a player that can help right away?

I think he has something he can give the Ichi-gun team, within the limits of making sure he does not get hurt or does not experience any problems.

Source: Sponichi 12/10/2012

Sponichi has also posted portion's of Otani's press conference.  I will take sections not included in the Sanspo version.

Hokkaido fans are happy [with your decision].

That makes me very happy.  It would be nice if I can provide power to the people of Hokkaido.  I would like to meet the fans as soon as possible.  I joined late and I want to do my best to perform in my first year.

Anything you would like to say to the fans in Iwate?

They warmly supported me even during the very difficult times after [Tohoku Earthquake].  I could not come through during the summer, so if I can somehow give back to them...  I want to become a player kids can look up to.

Source: Sponichi 12/10/2012

2 comments on “Shohei Otani News and Notes: December 10, 2012

  1. Chris

    So NPB teams have an unspoken “jurisdiction” over certain areas? I don’t know much about the NPB draft and how it works. Still, wouldn’t this be unfair to teams that are not in as heavily populated areas? In the MLB, everyone is up for grabs, to me that’s the point of a draft. If teams just grab whatever players they feel entitled to, then why not just sign the players like any other free agent, why have a lottery at all? I’m an American, so this all seems very foreign to me, but by that logic, it seems like teams are treating high schools in their areas as their own personal minor leagues. I’m sure I’m missing something, but this doesn’t make much sense to me.

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