Naked upper body, two shots with Fujinami… Shohei Otani: “The injury in his second year of high school that was a turning point & his first round cut” photo | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Naked upper body, two shots with Fujinami… Shohei Otani: “The injury in his second year of high school that was a turning point & his first round cut” photo

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At a pep rally for the Japanese high school national team in August 2012. In high school, he had a sweet tooth and would eat chocolate banana crepes on his way home from school.

Many fans may have been taken aback.

It was a hit by Shohei Otani (28, Angels) of Samurai Japan in a World Baseball Classic (WBC) training game against Hanshin at Kyocera Dome on March 6, 2012. He was off-timed, kneeling down, and one-armed into the back screen. In his next at-bat, he hit a three-run homer, his second in a row.

He says he is not in great shape due to jet lag, but I am not worried about his first game (against China) on March 9. Otani is now a superstar representing not only Japan but the world, and I can’t wait to see how he performs in the WBC.

Otani is performing in a different dimension. FRIDAY” captured a rare glimpse of Otani before his debut at Hanamaki-Higashi High School (Iwate Prefecture) and as a rookie with Nippon Ham. In an article distributed by FRIDAY Digital on July 16, 2021, the magazine introduced an injury that marked a turning point in his high school career. We would like to take a look back at the true face of the world-famous star, along with some of his first and treasured photos (some content has been edited).

I can’t practice pitching at all.

Shot of Ohtani and Fujinami, both over 190 cm, taken in August 2012.

Otani’s starting point was his junior year of high school. It was then that he grew by leaps and bounds, and it is because of that that he is now able to play on the world stage. I hope he continues to evolve and overturn the conventional wisdom of baseball.

What is the “starting point” as described by an acquaintance from his high school days?

In the summer of his second year of high school, Otani injured his left hip joint. From then until the spring of the following year, he did not practice pitching at all. He worked hard to improve his physical strength. I ate three bowls of rice in the morning and seven bowls at night. Thanks to this, my thin body grew to 85 kg, and my pitching speed, which had been around 140 km/h, became over 150 km/h. Because my lower body was stabilized, I was able to pitch at a higher velocity.

My lower body has become more stable, and my control of the ball has also improved. During hitting practice, I would make a ghastly sound like, “Pow! ‘ and he began to hit over the fence in rapid succession.

It seems that he also had a strong sense of rivalry. He was especially aware of Shintaro Fujinami (now of the Athletics), the ace of Toin Osaka, who was the same age as him. Another acquaintance said.

He is usually calm, but when he steps on the mound, the color of his eyes changes. He and Fujinami were members of the same high school national team, and they were rivals. We always said, ‘I want to go to the Majors. My friends in my hometown are very proud of my friend, who has done exactly what he said he would do and is now a very successful player.

From a star of professional baseball to a monster who amazes the world. What will the ever-evolving Otani do in the WBC to surprise his fans?

The Japanese high school team after practice at Panasonic Baseball Stadium in Hirakata, Osaka. Fujinami is in the back right.
At the World Championships in Seoul, South Korea, Fujinami was swinging the bat whenever he found time.
At the indoor practice field of Hanamaki-Higashi. Training to strengthen his lower body due to a hip injury.
Nippon Ham’s rookie training session in January 2013. He was surrounded by a large number of reporters after practice.
At Nippon Ham’s second training facility in Kamagaya City, Chiba Prefecture, he held a baby in his arms at the behest of a fan.
  • Photographed by Haruki Shimokoshi, Yuji Arakawa

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