Ahead of the WBC = World Baseball Classic semifinal against Mexico, the Japan players practiced for the first time at the game venue on the 19th, and pitcher Aki Sasaki, who is scheduled to start, expressed his enthusiasm, saying, "I want to accumulate outs one by one and keep them to zero."
In addition, Shohei Ohtani stated, "Of course, I want to prepare for the final as a middle hitter," and indicated that he will prepare to pitch not only as a designated hitter but also as a reliever in the final.
* In the second half of the article, I will tell you about Shohei Otani's [one question and one answer].
The Japan players who advanced to the WBC semifinals held their first practice session at Lone Depot Park in Florida, USA, from around 19 a.m. on the 10th.
Sasaki, who is scheduled to start the semifinal against Mexico, went to the mound to check the slope and feel of the soil. Then, I made adjustments by playing strong catch and throwing in the bullpen.
In addition, the fielders took sheet knocks to check how the ball bounced and how to see the fly, and then took batting practice.
In batting practice, Munetaka Murakami, who has been improving his form by hitting two two-base hits in the quarterfinals, and Masanao Yoshida, who sat at No. 2, threw home run balls with powerful swings.
Shohei Ohtani did not participate in batting practice and adjusted by playing light catch in the outfield.
Coach KURIYAMA Hideki said at the press conference after the training session, "I felt that the players looked happy and nervous. Tomorrow will be a match of patience."
Aki Sasaki: "I want to keep one out at a time and keep it to zero"
Pitcher Sasaki expressed his enthusiasm, saying, "I have a good pitcher behind me, so I don't care about the number of pitches, I want to accumulate outs one by one and keep them to zero.
The semi-finals between Japan and Mexico will be played on 1 June and 1 Japan time.
Shohei Otani "Preparing for the final as a midfielder"
Ahead of the semifinals, Ohtani said, "I think we're just going to win, and I believe the pitchers will keep us down. I think it's a matter of how easy we can make the batters."
In Mexico, Angels teammate Sandoval is scheduled to start in the semifinals, but he said calmly, "There are players I know, but if you ask me if it will change anything, it won't change that much.
When asked about the possibility of pitching in the semi-finals and finals, he said, "We have enough pitchers to throw tomorrow, and if everyone follows our calculations, I think we can definitely win the game. So far, the baseball team has been listening to my selfishness, so it's the last minute, and I want to make a decision while consulting with my body," he said, indicating that he will prepare to pitch not only as a designated hitter but also as a reliever in the final.
【Shohei Otani One Question and One Answer】
OHTANI Shohei of the Japan National Team spoke to the media after training on 19 September ahead of the semi-final match against Mexico. Here are the answers to each question.
Q.What is the condition?
A.Well, it's a little heavy, but I hope you can sleep today and be welcomed refreshed tomorrow.
Q.Did you talk to Mexican pitcher Sandoval?
A. Fufufu. We told each other to be careful, and "Are you ready to go to Arizona?" (laughs),
but Q.Are you looking forward to the match?
A.That's right. There are players I know, but if you ask me if something will change, it won't change that much. In the early spring, I stood at Sandy (Sandoval pitcher) in live BP (batting practice), but I don't think what I do will change much. I want to go into the at-bat with only a good image.
Q.For the semi-finals?
A.I think all I have to do is win. I believe that the pitcher will keep it down, and I think it's a matter of how easy it is for the batter.
Q.What are the measures for Sandoval pitchers?
A.If you can make your swing well, whether it's straight, slider, or changeup, I think you can hit it without any problems. As with any pitcher, it's important to get into the at-bat at your own timing and swing it well in your own time.
Q.What is your information about Sandoval pitchers and what advice do you give to your teammates?
A.Well, we're talking a little bit. I think there will be a whole meeting tomorrow, so please check again. I think we need to be able to attack as a team.
Q.The reason why the WBC became a big tournament was the will of our predecessors. How do we inherit it?
A.I think the tournament itself is definitely progressing, and I think it is getting closer to a prestigious tournament each time. We are still in the middle of the process, and conversely, I think every country feels that it is rewarding to be able to make the tournament even better on its own. I think it's been a great tournament so far. I think all we have to do is win, and I think the fans in Japan will be happy if we win, so that's all there is to it.
Q.Do you want to convey fun to children in Japan?
A.Yes, so are Japan fans. Of course, we lost to Taiwan and Korea Republic in the qualifiers. I think that if we win and win the championship, we will feel that we will be next too. It's not just those two, it's China, and I think there is still a lot of potential in Japan. I think it has the potential to grow. I think the most important thing is to win for that purpose.
Q.We have two more games. How excited are you at the moment?
A.I don't think so much at the moment. Well, try tomorrow. I'm not the type to be nervous about the day before. Tomorrow, I think there will be excitement and things like that.
Q.What is the atmosphere of the team?
A.The atmosphere of the team is good, isn't it? Everyone enjoys Miami itself. I don't think it's going to get weirdly hard, or rather, I think everyone is able to face it naturally.
Q.Two more games as a pitcher. How do you feel?
A.Of course, I don't think I will be in the starting line-up, so of course I would like to prepare myself as a midfielder. It's already a consultation with your physical condition. So far, the baseball team has really listened to my selfishness and really tolerated me in various ways. It's the last minute, and I want to make a decision in consultation with my body.
Q.What is your image of the final?
A.It's the final. Tomorrow will be tough in terms of days, and some pitchers will throw enough. If everyone goes according to their calculations, we can definitely win tomorrow's match.
Q.Did you practice batting indoors today?
A.Today, I'm basically just adjusting my pitching. I'm not batting.
Q.I think you had dinner with Murakami yesterday, but how do you spend time with your teammates?
A.Yesterday, Yunobu (Yamamoto) wanted me to take him, so I couldn't help it (laughs). Fufu, I feel like I went there (laughs).
Q.What kind of story do you have?
A.You watched the match against the United States yesterday. While watching the United States vs. Venezuela, it was like everyone eating together.
Q.Will Ohtani pay for his age?
A.Well, of course, yes (laughs)
Q.Did everyone watch the come-from-behind home run in the United States?
A.No, I was about to leave, and the nut bar was touching and I was like, "I hit it!" so I thought it was a joke. I really didn't think I was hitting it (laughs)
Q.Is jet lag okay already?
A.Well, it's not 100 (percent), but of course. I think everyone is like that, but of course it's a tough schedule. I want to do what I can to do in that situation.