Matsui Gets 1st Selection To Samurai Japan

Matsui gets 1st selection to Samurai JapanJapan announced its 26-man roster on Monday for the squad set to play against a group of All-Stars from Europe on March 10 and 11 at Tokyo Dome.
The Samurai Japan roster features four newcomers, including second-year hurlers Yuki Matsui, 19, and Katsuki Matayoshi, 24.

The games were set up in preparation for the Premier 12 tournament, to be cohosted by Taiwan and Japan in November, and the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Some of the main players who were on the squad that played in last November’s U.S.-Japan Series are on the roster, which has a fresh look with the new additions.

Along with Matsui and Matayoshi are first-time Samurai Japan members Tsubasa Aizawa and Yuhei Takai.

Yohei Oshima and Hirokazu Sawamura are back on the team for the first time since Hiroki Kokubo took over as manager in 2013.

The Euro All-Stars roster was set to be announced on Tuesday.

Kokubo talked about his picks at a press conference in Naha.

“As we get ready for the Premier 12, I definitely want to put players in situations in which they can improve,” Kokubo said.

“It’d also be a plus if this group can get a taste of what it’s like to play against European players,” said Kokubo, who added he plans to try and give everyone on the roster a chance to play over the two-game set.

Matsui was also on hand, and said he appreciates being chosen.

“To be a member of Samurai Japan, which every baseball player idolizes, is really an honor,” Matsui said.

“As the youngest player on the team, I just want to play with a lot of energy.”

Kokubo talked about why he didn’t include players such as Kenta Maeda (of the Hiroshima Carp) and Shohei Otani (of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham), who appeared in the U.S.-Japan Series.

“Better than choosing players whose abilities I’m familiar with, I thought it was better to give some younger players an opportunity,” the manager said.