He took his first appearance of the season against Kim Tae-hyung-ho, a 165km monster pitcher, “I didn’t give up the opening game.”

Japan’s “Monster Pitcher” Rocky Sasaki (Chiba Lotte) will make his first real appearance this season against Kim Tae-hyung.

Sasaki will take the mound as a starting pitcher for a practice game against the Korean Lotte Giants at Itoman Stadium in Okinawa, Japan, on the 25th. It was expected early on that Sasaki would start against Lotte, but his starting schedule was finalized on the 11th.

In addition to Sasaki, Atsuki Tanichi, another candidate for the starting pitcher for the regular season opener, will take the mound against the Rakuten Golden Eagles on the 23rd and Kazuya Ojima will take the mound against Lotte in Korea on the 24th, respectively.

Lotte’s team, led by manager Kim Tae-hyung, will have showdowns with ace pitchers of Chiba Lotte at a practice match in Okinawa. Of course, they will not likely throw as many pitches as they will take the mound for the first time in a real game and practice game.

As for Rocky, he pitched 21 bullpen sessions at the Chiba Lotte Spring Camp on Tuesday local time. He is expected to throw one to two innings in a practice game against the Korean team.

In an interview with Japan’s Sports Hochi on Sunday, Sasaki said, “I’m still in the process of getting better. I want to improve my physical condition without getting nervous.” Sasaki is expected to play an important role after being selected for the Premier 12 national team to be held in November. However, he said, “It’s a long way off. I want to focus on the opening of the regular season.”

It is a very important season for Sasaki as well. He is a pitcher who throws super fastballs with speeds of up to 165 kilometers per hour. The average speed of his fastballs is 158 to 159 kilometers. He has received attention since he was a member of the youth team, and he throws fastballs even when he set a new Japanese professional baseball speed record. He proved his potential once again at the World Baseball Classic last year.

Of course, his goal is to advance to the Major League. Sasaki expressed his intention to the team ahead of this season’s Major League challenge but failed. In the process, there were heated debates over Sasaki’s attitude. Once the relationship was settled, he decided to continue playing in Japan this season, but after this season’s end, the prevailing expectation is that Sasaki will seek to advance to the Major League again with the consent of the team. 꽁머니사이트

The problem is that he has not completely dominated the Japanese stage yet. He is the pitcher with the best fastball without disagreement, but there are many question marks when it comes to durability. He has never met the prescribed innings in four seasons since his debut, and has never won double-digit games. Sasaki had only 7 wins and 4 losses as he ended the highly anticipated 2023 season with 9 wins and 4 losses due to injuries in 20 games, 129 ⅓ innings, which he recorded in the 2022 season.

Recently, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, one of the best pitchers in the Japanese professional baseball league, signed a 12-year, 325 million-dollar special contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and NPB star pitchers such as Yuki Matsui (San Diego Padres) and Shota Imanaga (Chicago Cubs) entered the Major League, which seems to have shaken Sasaki’s mind. All of them, including Sasaki, are also WBC winners last year.

Sasaki, who admitted his ambition to advance to the Major League, has to prove his true worth in this season. “I have never given up on starting pitcher who I have never done before. I want to take the time to prepare for this season’s goal,” Sasaki said.

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