Baseball: Fighters Hold Last Round Of Talks With Otani


Baseball: Fighters hold last round of talks with OtaniThe Nippon Ham Fighters made a last-ditch entreaty Monday in their final round of talks with No. 1 draft pick Shohei Otani to join the Pacific League club.

The right-hander from Hanamaki Higashi High School has already expressed a desire to play in the major leagues directly, but the Fighters continued their push for the hard-throwing 18-year-old in a third meeting at a hotel in Oshu, Iwate Prefecture.

"Now we can only wait for his conclusion," said Fighters general manager Masao Yamada. "We talked about many things, and we gave it our best shot."

The boy's father, Toru, suggested that Otani's answer would come sooner rather than later. "It'll be soon; not before the year's out or the start of next year. We'd like him to respond of his own will," his father said.

Otani faced reporters for the first time since the talks began with the Fighters.

"They told me about the club, the good aspects of Japanese baseball. It gave me the food for thought necessary to make a decision. I also made new discoveries," said Otani.

Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama, who took part in the meetings for the first time, talked with Otani about major league mounds, imparted his knowledge of the sport cultivated during his time as a baseball analysis and did his best to impress upon the youngster his necessity to Japanese baseball.

But Kuriyama insisted he was not attempting to alter what will ultimately be Otani's decision.

"I didn't come here to urge him to change his decision. Together, I want to make his dream a reality. I spoke to him as a commentator, not as a manager," said Kuriyama.

Nippon Ham named Otani as its No. 1 pick in the Oct. 25th draft, despite knowing that the teen wishes to go directly to the majors.

Yamada paid Otani a courtesy call on Nov. 2 and held a second meeting with him on Nov. 17, where he explained the team's development contract system for players outside the 70-man roster.