“Get Shohei Ohtani (29, LA Angels) ready to bunt.”
For the championship, ‘Lee Do-Ryu’ and ’56 home runs’, the Asian home run king, also bunt. Hideki Kuriyama (62), coach of the Japan national baseball team, hinted at his plan to win the World Baseball Classic (WBC).
Japanese coach Murakami answered “yes” to the question, “Will Otani and Munetaka Murakami (23, Yakult Swallows) also bunt?” in an interview with the Japanese media “Sports Hochi” on the 7th.
Ohtani, who made a name for himself in the American Major League (MLB) as a pitcher, will bring out the ‘double sword’ in the WBC Japan team this time. The MLB Secretariat, which supervises the WBC, also encouraged Ohtani’s dual wielding style and established the ‘Ohtani Rule’ in this tournament, which allows the starting pitcher and hitter to continue playing as a designated hitter even if they come down the mound.
It is expected to be a big threat on the mound and other lines. Ohtani posted an ERA of 2.33 with 15 wins and 9 losses in MLB last season, while also recording a batting average of 0.273 (160 hits in 586 at-bats), 34 home runs, 95 RBIs, 11 stolen bases, and an OPS of 0.875. He also wrote a new history by achieving 10 wins and 30 home runs for the first time in MLB.
Murakami is also the main character who wrote a new history in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) last season. Murakami hit 56 home runs last year, setting the record for most home runs in a single season for Japanese players. He also won the NPB ‘Youngest Triple Crown’ title with a batting average of 0.318 and 134 runs batted in. In this WBC, he is predicted to be the strong fourth hitter of the Japanese national team. 안전놀이터
Although the leagues are different, the combined home runs of the two players total a whopping 90. However, coach Murakami told them that he would prepare a bunt. He is determined not to shy away from any irregular tactics to win the championship.
Coach Murakami said, “I want (both players) to prepare for the tournament thinking that they will bunt. I want to practice bunt thinking that I am doing it for Japan’s victory, and that this is the ‘pride of the Japanese national team’.” However, he added, “I will give instructions considering the fact that the bunt success rate of players who do not usually (bunt) is not good.”
On the other hand, he said he would keep all possibilities open for Ohtani’s batting order. Ohtani was mainly deployed in the 1st to 3rd batting order for the Angels last season. Director Murakami said, “Whether it’s 1-3 or 9, Ohtani can be placed anywhere. Depending on the Ohtani rule, the batting order will change.”
Japan aims to win the WBC tournament for the first time in 14 years. Japan won two consecutive championships in 2006 and 2009, the first WBC tournaments, but failed to maintain a relationship with the championship, finishing in third place in both the 3rd and 4th tournaments. In this tournament, the Japanese national team summoned super-luxury players such as Ohtaniwa Murakami, Yu Darvish (37, San Diego Padres), and Seiya Suzuki (29, Chicago Cubs), and showed their strong will to win.