Okoe of the Giants: “Impatient with the rapid growth of young players, he swung at a ball too hard” and was demoted to the second team. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Okoe of the Giants: “Impatient with the rapid growth of young players, he swung at a ball too hard” and was demoted to the second team.

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This January, Okoye visited the Miyazaki Shrine to pray for his success. …… (PHOTO: Kyodo News)

He struck out the first batter in the 9th inning of a mid-inning game and missed …… in the extra inning of the 11th.

Rui Okoye, 26, of the Giants, was demoted to the second team on August 10 after striking out on three pitches in two consecutive at-bats against Hanshin on August 9. He was demoted to the farm without having produced any results.

He was given a chance to show off his skills in the first team because regular outfielder Yoshihiro Maru, who also plays outfield, was out of the lineup with a left knee injury. Perhaps in his haste to get a result, he swung at a ball too hard and struck out too many times. Manager Tatsunori Hara does not like to see pitchers get out of the game without any kind of creative thinking. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but it was a natural consequence of his demotion to the second team.

It is understandable that Okoye is impatient. In the outfield, Masato Akihiro, who can also play first base, has become the mainstay, and Shogo Asano, the rookie draft pick, has hit his first home run.

Is the goal to become a power hitter?

Veterans Hisayoshi Nagano and Takayuki Kajitani are also active. Foreign players such as Brinson and Walker, who is making his mark in the second team, are also making their presence felt. The Giants’ outfield is saturated with young players, veterans, and helpers. Okoye, who joined the team through the active draft, was active in the early spring, but he is gradually losing his place. It is a very difficult situation.

Okoye was a gem in his high school days (Kanto Ichi High School in Tokyo), when he took the Koshien National Championships by storm. He has a strong shoulder with a long throw of 120 m, eyesight of 2.0 or better, a 50 m run of 5.96 seconds, and a swing speed of 157 km/h. His physical abilities are also high. Why can’t he break out in the pros?

Okoye’s greatest strength is his instantaneous power. However, I don’t think he is conscious of developing this advantage. Perhaps it is because of his admiration for the major leaguers, whom he says he admires, that he is trying to hit long balls with a bigger body and a dynamic swing.

However, Okoye is not a power hitter. By making his body bigger, he is losing his original agility. I feel he is losing sight of his own good qualities.

As mentioned earlier, the Giants’ outfield is saturated. Even in the second team, Okoye does not have many chances to start. If things continue as they are, we have to assume the worst.

It may sound harsh, but I don’t think Okoye can be said to be a necessary asset for the Giants right now. The ‘trial period’ after the active draft is over. Unless he changes his mindset and makes a drastic change of direction, he may have a very difficult future ahead of him this off-season. The notice of withdrawal from the war is also a reality.

I think he is well aware of the situation he is in. There are times when he seems depressed and gloomy. There is no time to just look down. Okoye is now in his late 20s and is already a mid-level player. He is being pushed into a last-ditch effort to survive in the pro ranks.

Can he regain the brilliance that drew the attention of baseball fans all over Japan at Koshien? There are high hopes for his awakening, but Okoye does not have much time left.

  • PHOTO Kyodo News

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