Shohei Otani updates from December 26:
- Otani toured the Sapporo team facilities on Wednesday.
- A number of fans gathered at the facilities and thanked Otani for signing with the Fighters.
- About 200 fans greeted Otani at the airport on Tuesday morning.
- Tuesday's press conference was carried by four local TV channels in Sapporo.
- There were over twenty cameras and 150 members of the media at the press conference.
- Twenty TV cameras and about 150 members of the media covered Otani's first ceremonial pitch and swing at Sapporo Dome on Tuesday.
- The Fighters flashed "160km/h" on the scoreboard when Otani threw his ceremonial pitch to Hideki Kuriyama on Tuesday.
- Kuriyama likened Otani's presence in the batter's box to Hiromitsu Ochiai. He also said he was reminded of a right-handed version of Randy Johnson. In terms of Japanese pitchers, Suguru Egawa and Masumi Kuwata.
- There is a good chance Otani will start the spring at Ni-gun camp.
- Otani could make his pro debut on May 25 vs Hanshin at Koshien.
- A SMAP concert was held at Sapporo Dome on Monday night. Workers had to rebuild the mound and clean up the infielder and center field areas for the media. Areas in left and right field were left unfinished.
- Otani met Yusei Kikuchi at Hanamaki Higashi on Monday.
- Otani currently weights eighty-seven kilograms. His goal is to get up to about ninety-three kilograms. To help him get there, he sometimes eats three bowl of rice in the morning and seven bowls at dinner. When Yu Darvish first joined, he was eighty-five kilograms.
Source: Sanspo 12/26/2012, Sanspo 12/26/2012, Sanspo 12/26/2012, Nikkan Sports 12/26/2012, Sports Hochi 12/26/2012, Sports Hochi 12/26/2012, Daily Sports 12/26/2012, Daily Sports 12/26/2012, Sponichi 12/26/2012, Sponichi 12/26/2012, Sponichi 12/26/2012, Sponichi 12/26/2012, Sponichi 12/26/2012
Otani's day on Tuesday
06:00 - woke up at his home in Oshu, Iwate.
08:10 - took a taxi with his parents to Iwate Airport.
09:00 - was joined by Fighters scouting director Takashi Ofuchi and Hanamaki Higashi baseball director Hiroyuki Sasuga at the airport. Plane took off at 9:16am.
10:14 - arrived at New Chitose Airport. 250 people greeted Otani.
10:20 - boarded team bus at the airport.
13:00 - signed an official contract at the hotel. Ate lunch with Hideki Kuriyama and other team officials.
16:00 - press conference at a Hokkaido hotel. Put on the team uniform with the number eleven at 16:19.
16:45 - left press conference hotel. Arrived at team offices in Sapporo at 17:19.
17:32 - moved to Sapporo Dome.
18:02 - threw four practice pitches before throwing one pitch to Kuriyama.
18:04 - stepped into the batter's box for his first swing.
18:43 - All events done. Left Sapporo Dome on team bus.
Source: Sports Hochi 12/26/2012
Some more bits and pieces from Otani's press conference on Tuesday
You officially signed a contract [with the Fighters].
I have anxious, but also excited. I will do my best to become one with the Fighters to win a championship.
On the time leading up to your decision to sign.
It was a very difficult decision, but the warm support I received from people in Iwate and the letters I received from people in Hokkaido, gave me courage. I feel refreshed now.
On the player you look up to.
I have always looked up to [Atsunori] Inaba. Sho Nakata's home run during the Nippon Series left an impression. I was also moved when he bowed toward left.
On your personality.
I have my own pace.
On standing on the mound and in the batter's box.
I felt especially good on the mound.
On Sapporo Dome.
The stands were much larger than I imagined. I do not know if I can hit [a home run], but I will do my best.
Source: Sanspo 12/26/2012
Sports Hochi -
On Sapporo Dome.
It was a lot larger than I imagined. The fences were also very high. I do not know if I can hit [a home run], but I will do my best.
When did you started hitting left-handed?
From when I first started playing baseball. I do everything else with my right-hand. My father also batted from the left side. I can only bat from the left side.
On facing Hanshin's [Shintaro] Fujinami.
As both a pitcher and a hitter, he is someone I would like to face. But first, I need to get myself up to that level.
Is there something you would like to say to your parents?
I put them through a lot and would like to repay them by making it to Ichi-gun and winning a championship.
On your personality?
I think I like sticking to my own pace.
It seems you received a letter from a fan in Hokkaido.
It was from an elderly person. The letter said they followed me when I played high school ball and that they wanted me to come Hokkaido so that they can watch me play again. It was a very warm letter. I also received some letters from kids.
Do you like Japanese history?
There are parts I know well. Like the end of the Edo period. Ryoma Sakamoto? Yes, he is interesting.
What are you plans for New Years?
I have not visited my maternal grandparents for three years. I would like to visit them since I have made my decision.
Source: Sports Hochi 12/26/2012
It has been two weeks since you announced your decision. What are your thoughts?
There were many that warmly supported me. Right now, I feel refreshed.
On your first visit to Hokkaido.
I was greeted by many people at the airport. That was very nice. There are many warm people [here]. That made me happy.
On your ambitions as a member of the Fighters.
I could not win a championship in high school, so I would like to watch the backs of my teammates as I grow and do my best to help win a championship. As a pitcher, as a batter, I will do my best to help the team win a championship. I think I like to do things at my own pace, but I will do my best.
Are there any players you look up to on the Fighters?
I have looked up to [Atsunori] Inaba for a long time and would like a chance to speak to him. Sho Nakata's home run during the Nippon Series left a lasting impression. I was moved when he bowed toward left. There are many wonderful teammates.
On Kuriyama wanting you to become a clean-up hitting ace of the pitching staff.
The levels within the team are very high. I am thankful he feels that way. I have known Kuriyama-kantoku since high school. I was probably the cause of a lot of headaches for him. I would like to do my best to help him.
On your parents.
I put them through a lot, so I would like to repay them by playing at the top level in Japan.
On facing Hanshin's Fujinami.
First, I need to get myself to that level. I would like to face him as a hitter and have a pitching duel against him.
Source: Sponichi 12/26/2012