Nikkan Sports has posted an interview with 1st round draft picks Shohei Otani (Nippon Ham) and Shintaro Fujinami (Hanshin).
Otani, Fujinami, there is hope that the two of you will carry Japanese yakyu on your shoulders in the future. What kind of first dreams did you have? What do you plan to do in your first years?
Otani: I want to see myself doing well at Ichi-gun. Both as a pitcher and a hitter. [Hideki] Kuriyama's words "dreams come true" left a lasting impression... I got a bit of a late start [because of my decision]. I am working out as I imagine myself performing at Ichi-gun.
Fujinami: I am not the type to really see first dreams, and I have never really had one. I think it would be nice to have a dream about Mt. Fuji. [Any of the good first dream things,] like Mt. Fuji, hawks, or eggplants. This is a special year so it may end up beginning differently [than previous years]. I want to begin the new year with an awareness of myself.
Facing off against each other, it seems the two of you might be able to push each other to perform.
Otani: I would like to pitch against [Fujinami] and I would like to stand in the batter's box against him. But I need to get to that level first. I was always losing to him in high school, so I would like to beat him in the pros. It would make me happy if we can both make it to Ichi-gun and play against each other. That is one of my goals and I will use it to help keep me going.
Fujinami: Ideally, it would be best if we can pitch against each other. Otani is truly a great pitcher. If we are going to play against each other, I would like it to be as pitchers.
You will soon be moving into the player dorms and the 2012 draft class training camps will begin shortly thereafter. What kinds of training are you currently doing in preparation for your careers as professional players?
Otani: The thing I am focusing on right now, before the 2012 draft class training camp, is building up my body. Compared to professional players, I think I have no stamina. I would like to work hard on building up my body, which includes eating. For breakfast, I eat two to three bowls [of rice] and for dinner about seven bowls. It is about the same amount I ate when [I played high school ball].
[Otani was originally not a big eater, but he grew when he got into high school. Players tend to lose weight as they participate in the 2012 draft class training camp. Because of that, Otani is hoping to push his weight to ninety kilograms.]
Otani: I am getting pitching work by tossing batting practice [during my high school's workouts]... I am also getting myself accustomed to wood bats. I am working with a wood bat now, but they have been breaking, sometimes as quickly as one every three days. But I am getting used to them, so I am not breaking them as much any more.
Fujinami: My workouts do including playing catch and pitching practice. But because it is the winter, my focus is on training exercises. I think I will practice regularly, other than New Year's break.
Your ideal kind of baseball player.
Otani: It was the same back in high school because I could not win at the Koshien, but I would like to become a pitcher that can win. As a hitter, I am not thinking about home runs. I want to drive in runs, get hits during scoring opportunities. That is the kind of hitter I want to become. I like the way [Atsunori] Inaba approaches hitting.
Fujinami: My goal is to become a pitcher that can win. I want to always focus on winning.
Otani: I am a [Yu] Darvish fan. I also have respect for him. The way he throws, his pitching style. He looks good out there. He felt close because he attended Tohoku High School. When I was in junior high, I copied his delivery.
On what it means to get the number eleven, Darvish's old number.
Otani: It is a great number, so I do not want to lose. I will practice. Even if I am satisfied, there is no point if people around me are not satisfied, so I want to improve in a way that will make other see [what I am about]. I want to realize my potential and have confidence in myself by the time I am twenty-four or twenty-five. Right now, I cannot make it to Ichi-gun. I want to become the type of player, both in terms of hitting and pitching, that is always competing for titles.