The selection of an agent has begun… Kazuma Okamoto, the No. 4 pitcher for the “struggling Giants,” has a realistic prospect of “going overseas by posting. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The selection of an agent has begun… Kazuma Okamoto, the No. 4 pitcher for the “struggling Giants,” has a realistic prospect of “going overseas by posting.

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Kazuma Okamoto, who has raised his profile in the WBC (PHOTO: Kyodo News)

Last season, the team was humiliated and finished in the B class. This season, too, they were 3 in debt at the end of April. It was the first time since the 2011 season that the Giants entered May with a debt. If the Giants finish in the B class again this season, it will be the second consecutive year, the only time they have done so since the 2005 (Tsuneo Horiuchi) and 2006 (Tatsunori Hara) seasons.

That is why I have the impression that the voices and reports pointing out the “sluggishness of the Giants” and “the limitations of manager Hara” have become even louder than usual. There is no end to the reasons for the slump. However, there are still more than 100 games left in the pennant race, and the interleague games have not yet been completed, so I don’t think it is too early to be pessimistic about the situation.

On the other hand, this reporter is “concerned” about “the level of attention paid to Major League Baseball.

I have the impression that attention to Samurai Japan exploded after the team regained the world championship in the WBC (World Baseball Classic) for the third time in three tournaments, and it is still continuing at a high level. Whenever Shohei Ohtani of the Angels starts or plays well, of course, people start following the performance of Masanao Yoshida of the Red Sox and others on the afternoon wide shows after the games, which has never happened before,” he said.

The WBC has had a tremendous effect in attracting people who were not familiar with Major League Baseball games before. Naturally, this means that the “next player to cross the ocean” will attract a great deal of attention.

The Giants’ No. 4 player, Kazuma Okamoto (26), is probably at the top of the list. Many people may have been impressed by his simple and straightforward answers at the press conference held immediately after his triumphant return from Miami, USA.

In addition to the attention he is attracting among the TV audience, he is also receiving an increasing number of inquiries for information from people involved in the major leagues.

He was very impressive in the WBC, hitting a three-run shot in the quarterfinals and a solo home run in the finals. There is no doubt that he has long had a strong desire to play in the Majors. Okamoto is considering selecting an agent to prepare for a concrete approach.

It is obvious that in order for the Giants’ No. 4 to cross the ocean, it is necessary for him to continue to produce results this season, but of course it is also important for him to obtain permission from the Giants. Okamoto will be 31 years old in the off-season of 2007 when he will be eligible to become an overseas FA.

In his triumphant press conference, he said, “It was a great experience for me, and I felt a lot of emotions. I was happy to win the championship with this team,’ and ‘I myself realized how interesting baseball was. I felt a kind of hunger to play baseball at a higher level. It would be harsh to ask Okamoto to wait another five years.

What about the Giants’ stance?

In the past, the Giants were more strict than any other baseball team about sending their main players overseas, but in the off-season of 2007, they approved posting for Shun Yamaguchi, and in the following year, they approved posting for Tomoyuki Sugano.

(The same press release) “Aside from Yamaguchi, Kanno is an ace and a native of the team. If that is the case, it is natural to assume that a freshman would also be approved as the No. 4 pitcher.

I don’t know if Okamoto has any such thoughts, or if he has gone to any great lengths in his discussions with the team, but there is no way he would consider an agent when there is nothing to consider. Where he was positive in his own way, his performance in the WBC has given the impression that an early move to a new team is becoming a reality.

The Majors have strict regulations on the amount of money each team can spend to acquire a young overseas player, but Okamoto is not caught in any of these restrictions. While the groundwork is being laid for the transfer, the only obstacle may be that “I don’t know if it is Hara or the next manager, but he is begging me to do one more year for the team,” said the aforementioned reporter.

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