New Diamondbacks reliever Yoshihisa Hirano, who has spent his entire pro career to date with the Orix Buffaloes in Nippon Professional Baseball, addressed the Japanese media following his completion of the contract and spoke about his jump from NPB to MLB (English link via the Kyodo News). Hirano said that the comfort he found using a Major League ball (rather than the slightly different NPB ball) during this year’s World Baseball Classic gave him confidence that he’d be able to pitch in MLB. As he became increasingly aware of MLB scouts attending his outings in Japan, he thought more and more about making the move. “Truthfully, if I hadn’t heard that I might not have been thinking of going,” said Hirano. The 33-year-old righty would relish the opportunity to square off against new Angels star Shohei Ohtani in the batter’s box, and the D-backs and Halos do have four interleague games. The Kyodo report notes that Hirano has faced Ohtani 15 times in Japan, allowing only an infield single.
A few more notes out of the West…
- Padres GM A.J. Preller tells Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune and Baseball America that he’d had his eye on right-hander Bryan Mitchell for quite some time before finally acquiring him from the Yankees earlier this month. “He’s a guy who our scouting group had talked about a lot the last three years,” says Preller. “He has big fastball velocity, and he’s got a really good breaking pitch in there, too.” Preller goes on to state that the upside with Mitchell was more intriguing to the Friars than most of the free-agent market. Manager Andy Green, meanwhile, notes that the Padres feel they’ll be able to give him a more consistent role (presumably in the rotation), which could help the 26-year-old tap into his potential.
- MLB.com’s Thomas Harding answers several offseason-focused questions in his latest Rockies Inbox column. In Harding’s estimation, Greg Holland “remains the favorite” to return as the Rockies’ closer in 2018, though he notes there are other options if the Rockies are ultimately outbid. A low-cost look at Adrian Gonzalez doesn’t seem likely with Ryan McMahon on the horizon, per Harding, who also notes that the Rockies remain in contact with Mark Reynolds about a potential reunion, which could further crowd the team’s list of first base options. Harding also opines that a trade of Trevor Story is unlikely, even with Brendan Rodgers looming in the minors, and he looks at the team’s pitching staff for the ’18 season as well.