Shohei Ohtani and Shintaro Fujinami’s Photo Collection From 11 Years Ago Looking Fresh
On March 1, Japan time, the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani (28) and the Athletics’ Shintaro Fujinami (28) will both start in the MLB Open in Mesa, Arizona. Athletics manager Mark Kotsay made this clear to the press.
It’s the first time in a long time that two pitchers will be on the mound in the same game. Even though it’s a spring training game, it’s exciting.
I’m excited, even though it’s a spring training game,” he said.
It has been nine years since the two pitched together. The last time the two pitched together was on July 19, 2014, at Koshien Stadium for the All-Star Game, where Ohtani gave up one run on three hits in one inning. Fujinami gave up four runs on four hits in two innings, and neither pitcher pitched well. However, that year, Otani became the first player in Japanese professional baseball history to record double-digit wins and double-digit home runs with 11 wins and 10 home runs. Fujinami, on the other hand, also won 11 games and reached double-digit wins for the second year in a row, and both pitchers were representing both the Central and Pacific League, making Japanese professional baseball more exciting than ever. The first time these two pitched against each other was when they were in their third year of high school. It was also at Koshien Stadium.
On March 21, 2012, they met in the first round of the high school baseball tournament, and Osaka Toin won 9-2. Fujinami allowed only two runs on eight hits with 12 strikeouts. Otani, on the other hand, gave up seven hits and struck out 11, but gave up 11 walks.
In August of that year, the two were selected as members of the Japanese high school national team for the 25th IBAF 18U World Baseball Championship. At a pep rally, the two players were urged by reporters to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their hair cut and give the camera their first smiles.
At the time, Fujinami was the winning pitcher of the consecutive Koshien spring and summer championships, and as the ace of the national team, there were high expectations for him, and he seemed accustomed to being interviewed, looking very regal. Otani, on the other hand, was a fighter on the mound, but he usually has a calm personality, so he looked quite shy.
The following year, Otani joined the Nippon Ham Fighters and Fujinami joined the Hanshin Tigers. In March 2014, their second year as professional pitchers, they faced each other directly for the second time since Koshien. The result was that Otani gave up one run on two hits and one walk with four strikeouts in five innings, while Fujinami gave up five runs on nine hits and one walk with six strikeouts in five innings, giving the game to Otani.
Since then, Otani has made great strides in pitching and hitting, and is now one of the MLB’s most popular players. Fujinami, on the other hand, has been in a slump since 2016 and has not been able to produce to his own satisfaction in recent years, and his MLB debut is still viewed with skepticism in Japan. However, Fujinami’s reputation among the team’s leaders has been on the rise. Team pitching coach Emerson said, “He has a lot of potential.
He has high potential and will be able to adjust” (Nikkan Sports, February 20, Japan Standard Time).
(Nikkan Sports, February 20, Japan time).
What will happen on March 1 between the two? It will be a must-see!
Photo.： Haruki Shimokoshi (1st and 2nd), Ippei Hara, Kojiro Yamada, Takeshi Kinugawa