Yamamoto impresses in Dodgers pre-season debut - Hindustan Times

Yamamoto impresses in Dodgers pre-season debut

Feb 29, 2024 04:37 AM IST

Yamamoto impresses in Dodgers pre-season debut

Yoshinobu Yamamoto struck out three batters in two scoreless innings in a dazzling pre-season debut Wednesday for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have bet big that the 25-year-old Japanese star will be a Major League Baseball ace.

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Yamamoto threw 19 pitches, 16 of them for strikes, and surrendered one hit as he displayed his formidable repertoire of pitches in the Dodgers' 6-4 loss to the World Series champion Texas Rangers in Surprise, Arizona.

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Marcus Semien, part of the Rangers' championship lineup last season, led off and struck out swinging on a 96 mph (154.5 Km/h) fastball.

Yamamoto then gave up a single to Evan Carter, who was retired when Wyatt Lanford hit into an inning-ending double play.

In the second inning, Yamamoto struck out Nathaniel Lowe, induced a fly out from Jonah Heim and, finally, struck out Leody Taveras -- who went down swinging on a 91 mph splitter.

It was a strong performance from the right-hander, who inked a 12-year, $325 million deal with the Dodgers in December straight out of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball -- where he had won three straight Sawamura Awards as Japan's top pitcher.

"It was certainly very efficient today and no surprise that he controlled his emotions," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "I'm sure he was excited. You couldn't tell it. He was just out there professional, attacking, and he got a chance to use his fastball, the split, the slider, the curveball. So he was really good today."

Yamamoto's off-season arrival came two weeks after the Dodgers inked two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani to a 10-year, $700 million deal.

Ohtani, who smashed a two-run homer in his exhibition debut with the Dodgers on Tuesday, didn't play on Wednesday but turned out to watch his young compatriot's outing from the dugout.

Yamamoto left to a standing ovation from Dodgers fans in attendance, and Roberts said the Dodgers are as excited as their supporters are to watch him develop.

"Obviously you've got a pitcher that is coming over from another league, another country, and so there's some expectation, anticipation with that," Roberts said, adding that Yamamoto's sheer talent raises hopes he can be a "top end guy right off the get go.

"I think for us as a ball club, we're really excited to see what he can do for us," Roberts said.


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