“My names is Yoshihisa Hirano. Please call me Yoshi. Thank you for coming today. I am happy to be a member of the D-backs.” That’s how the second Japanese player to sign with the Diamondbacks began his press conference at Salt River Fields yesterday. He signed a two-year, $6 million contract in December, and is expected to stand alongside Brad Boxberger and Archie Bradley at the pointy end of the Arizona bullpen this year, Which of them will actually be the team’s designated closer, is something which will be worked out over the course of spring training. But here are a few translated nuggets of interest to come out of his introduction this morning.
- “I am very, very excited to be here and hope to help the D-backs win.”
- “The D-backs were the first team that made me an offer.”
- “I’ve been a closer in Japan so hopefully, ultimately that would be my goal. But I’m willing to pitch in any situation that Torey tells me to.”
- “My experience in the WBC was a huge part [of deciding to come to America].”
- “I feel that the control Japanese pitchers have is one of the main reasons [so many have moved to MLB] and why many have succeeded. I’m hoping I can be like those guys.”
- [What will be the keys to success?] “First, mound presence. My specialty is fastball/split, I do have a slider, but I feel the most important thing is to be able to execute each of those pitches. I was able to that in Japan, and hope I am able to do the same thing here.”
- [Why did you choose #66?] “I was wearing #66 in Japan, and when I pitched for Japan in the WBC last year, I was hoping to get #16 but Shohei Ohtani already had that number, so I went with #66 there as well.”
- “I’m actually not conscious about my age. There have been a lot of pitchers from Japan that have jumped over the big leagues at my age. Some of these guys are pitching well into their forties, so I still don’t feel that I’m on the downside of my career.”
- [Who would you like to face and why?] “This is the most difficult question for me to answer. There are so many quality hitters in the big leagues. I’m hoping I can face each one of them and come out the winner.”
Here’s the full press conference, if you’re interested in seeing Hirano putting on his jersey ‘n’ stuff.