Japanese prospect Kikuchi to announce decision

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18-year-old Japanese left-hander
Yusei Kikuchi has scheduled a press conference for Sunday to announce
whether he will pitch in the United States or remain in Japan.
According to Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker,
recent media reports in Japan suggest that he will begin his career in Japan, however he also mentions the media are “hearing what they want to hear” in regards to the teenage phenom.



According to the Japan Times, Kikuchi has met with 20 Japanese and major league baseball clubs,
including the Dodgers, Red Sox, Rangers, Giants, Mariners, Mets,
Yankees and Indians. The Rangers have pushed hard to sign Kikuchi,
even sending Derek Holland to Japan as part of their pitch.



The Nippon Professional Baseball draft is five days away, of which
Kikuchi is expected to be the No. 1 selection. The teenage southpaw
threw a 96 MPH fastball during the National High School Invitational in
April, the fastest pitch ever thrown by a left-hander since the radar
gun was introduced in national high school tournaments in 1980. If
Kikuchi decides to bypass the NPB draft, he would be following in the
footsteps of Junichi Tazawa, who signed a three-year, $3 million
contract with the Red Sox last December.

Mets to move Matt Harvey to the bullpen

Matt Harvey
AP Images
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Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.

It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.

At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”

Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.