After eight straight years in the majors, outfielder Nate Schierholtz found himself in an unfamiliar situation last spring. The veteran outfielder inked a minor league deal with the Rangers in February 2015 and, roughly seven weeks later, he opted out of the pact when he learned that he would not make the cut. When baseball’s game of musical chairs left Schierholtz without a quality MLB opportunity, the veteran decided to go out of his comfort zone and hemisphere by signing with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp.
“It was definitely an interesting experience and I learned a lot. I enjoyed living with the Japanese culture and learning some of their ways and values. The fans are very kind to the American foreign players and it was a great experience,” Schierholtz told MLBTR in Lakeland, Florida before the Tigers’ contest against the Pirates.
Schierholtz didn’t know much about the NPB before heading over there, but he quickly discovered that the Hiroshima Carp enjoy rockstar status in Japan.
“We were a very popular team, we sold out with 35,000 people every day that season. Our support was like no other team’s there, even during road games. It was neat to see fans stand up and cheer for three hours straight without sitting down. They had a couple of chants for every player too. Mine was ’Nate-O,’ because that’s what they called me. The whole stadium would chant ’Home Run Nate-O!’ every time I was at bat because that’s all they want to see from the American players,” the outfielder said.
Schierholtz, of course, isn’t a huge home run hitter, but he did oblige the fans’ request on ten occasions. In 248 plate appearances, Schierholtz slashed .250/.298/.435 while playing hard-nosed defense in the outfield. After re-establishing himself, the veteran had multiple non-guaranteed MLB opportunities for the 2016 season. This time around, he knew that his best bet was to sign early on in the offseason.
“I had a little bit of a different strategy from last offseason. I waited and waited and waited and I kind of got in a bad situation last Spring Training [with the Rangers] as far as opportunity goes, so I just wanted to sign with a team that wanted me there. I felt like [the Tigers’] track record of being a successful team really appealed to me. I think, at my age, my goal is to get back to the playoffs. I had so much fun back in San Francisco winning that World Series, that’s kind of what motivates me now.”
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
May want to explicitly call out that he’s back in the MLB with the Detroit Tigers. Had to go dig around Google to see who he signed a minor league deal with.
Just Another Fan
Last I checked Japan and America were both in the same hemisphere.
Check again. Japan is in the eastern Hemisphere and America is in the Western.
Just Another Fan
This is totally crazy, but I was never taught about eastern and western hemispheres growing up, just the equator and north/south. I stand corrected!
Vote Bernie Sanders, everyone, I wonder what other poorly-educated things I got taught in school was incorrect??? We need better education in this country, damn!
Nicely said on Super Tuesday
Your free education failed you, so you want more free education? That’s interesting.
The reason of the increased fan attendance and sell-outs last season was because of 1.) Hiroki Kuroda coming back in Japan and, 2.) Kenta Maeda’s anticipated final season with the team… Attendance will be off the charts this upcoming season when Kuroda pitches because this will be his final year… he will retire after the seasons end.
Also, knowing he’s pretty new when he came over. The tremendous support by fans for their respective teams was a shock for him -non-stop cheering, fan service, slogans and hero interviews- all of it. Not just in the NPB, but the CPBL and especially the KBO do this too by the way.
What the heck, guess no harm in posting an example of it,.
NPB Hiroshima Carp cheering: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-R6GrR4rJg
KBO Doosan Bears cheering: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN8PbbBzOI8
I wish we had the same enthusiasm for the game here, I’ve always respected Japan’s fandom, and more recently, South Korea’s. Western fandom is more selfish, it’s like what can the team do for me, to make me feel good, rather than what can I do for my team to support them. It’s all about wins and losses and stats over here, not just the enjoyment of what is ultimately a game, and that’s a shame.
.250BA and only a .298 OBP in Japan and he’s ready to come back? He might make a triple-A team but those numbers don’t translate to making an MLB roster.
At this point, he is a depth option for the Tigers and would probably be sent to Toledo if he stays past spring training. Bench is expected to be either Saltalamachia or Holaday at C, Romine and Aviles at IF, and Maybin in OF.
Agreed, though Aviles will be super utility if he makes the team. Feels a lot like Alex Gonzalez all over again.