Shohei Otani touched 163 kilometers per hour in 5-2/3 scoreless innings before a crowd of major league scouts on Tuesday but admitted afterward he still has a long way to go.
Otani, making his third start in an injury-plagued season that has seen him used primarily as a designated hitter for the Nippon Ham Fighters. Facing the Rakuten Eagles at his home park, Sapporo Dome, the right-hander who is eager to both hit and pitch in the majors, showed good movement on his breaking pitches, but lacked consistent location with his fastball.
"I think I was able to show some good pitching and we won, so I'm happy about that," said Otani, who had started previously on July 12 and Aug. 31. "Compared to how I throw when I'm in top form, I'm not there yet, but I was able to pitch carefully so as to keep them off the board. I'm looking forward to next time."
He left the mound having thrown 78 pitches. Otani allowed one hit and three walks, while striking out four. The Eagles got some good swings on his fastball and the ball hard several times but all but one time the balls found Fighters fielders.
The game was taken in by representatives of about half of Major League Baseball's 30 teams.
Otani earned Pacific League MVP honors last season in his dual role as the Fighters ace and designated hitter. After the Fighters won the Pacific League pennant and Japan Series, the club agreed to his request to post him after the 2017 season.