Nippon Professional Baseball's two leagues will adopt a unique twist on the designated hitter rule during this year's interleague play, it was learned Wednesday from informed sources.
For the 10th season of the spring event that sees each club play a pair of home-and-away series against each of the rival league's six teams, the Central League will employ the designated hitter rule in its home games. The Pacific League, which uses the rule in its regular season games, will not use it during this year's home interleague contests.
The decision will allow Nippon Ham Fighters fans the chance to see double-duty player Shohei Otani both pitch and bat in the same home game. Otani, a left-handed-hitting, right-handed pitcher, is batting .387 with four doubles in his 31 plate appearances this spring. He is 1-0 with a 2.08 earned run average in his two starts.
This season's interleague play will begin on May 20 at PL parks, with each club playing 24 games through June 22.