About half of the league had representatives on hand to watch Shohei Otani pitch for the Nippon Ham Fighters in the Japan Pacific League on Thursday, the Kyodo News reports. Yankees GM Brian Cashman was among the reps scouting Otani. Others, according to Ken Rosenthal, included the Diamondbacks, Orioles, Red Sox, Cubs, Reds, Indians, Dodgers, Pirates, Mariners, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Nationals, as well as the Padres and Rays.
Otani went 3 1/3 innings, yielding four runs on three hits and three walks with four strikeouts. It’s only his second start of the season, as he has been battling some injuries. Known for being a two-way player, Otani is hitting .342/.402/.548 with five home runs and 22 RBI in 164 plate appearances on the season.
Jon Morosi reports that those within the industry have “increasing confidence” that Otani will play in Major League Baseball next year. Of course, he’ll be subject to the league’s international spending limit. Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish headline an otherwise underwhelming group of free agent starters, which will likely help increase interest in Otani.
ARLINGTON, Texas — Yankees slugger Aaron Judge wasn’t in the starting lineup for New York’s regular-season finale, a day after his 62nd home run that broke Roger Maris’ 61-year-old American League single-season record.
When Judge homered in the first inning Tuesday night, in the second game of a doubleheader against the Texas Rangers, it was his 55th consecutive game. He has played in 157 games overall for the AL East champions.
With the first-round bye in the playoffs, the Yankees won’t open postseason play until the AL Division Series starts next Tuesday.
Even though Judge had indicated that he hoped to play Wednesday, manager Aaron Boone said after Tuesday night’s game that they would have a conversation and see what made the most sense.
“Short conversation,” Boone said before Wednesday’s game, adding that he was “pretty set on probably giving him the day today.”
Asked if there was a scenario in which Judge would pinch hit, Boone responded, “I hope not.”
Judge went into the final day of the regular season batting .311, trailing American League batting average leader Minnesota’s Luis Arraez, who was hitting .315. Judge was a wide leader in the other Triple Crown categories, with his 62 homers and 131 RBIs.
Boone said that “probably the one temptation” to play Judge had been the long shot chance the slugger had to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.