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Japan’s Kodai Senga Brings Ghost Fork Pitch to Mets


Martinez added that Senga displayed “leadership qualities” within the clubhouse, and van den Hurk highlighted Senga’s humorousness and sociability. Senga would drop one-liners in English in order that he could interact together with his foreign teammates, and van den Hurk believes those jokes will make him successful within the Mets’ clubhouse as he continues to learn the language.

The adjustments Senga could have to make transcend learning a language and facing recent batters.

David Robertson, a right-handed reliever who signed with the Mets this off-season, competed against Senga within the Olympics. He was also there for Tanaka’s first season within the Bronx, and was a teammate of outfielder Seiya Suzuki, who made his major league debut with the Chicago Cubs last season. Based on his experiences with those players, Robertson said one issue is that the weather is usually warmer in Japan than it’s in a few of M.L.B.’s northern cities, especially early within the season, and that many N.P.B. teams play in domes.

It is going to be hard for Senga to take care of cold weather “right out of the gate,” Robertson said.

An M.L.B. job also comes with more travel, and most teams use five-man rotations, relatively than six, the rotation in Japan. On the sphere, Senga could have to acclimate to a harder pitching mound and a bigger baseball which doesn’t feature the tack Japanese pitchers are accustomed to. Between that and the weather, Mets fans will want to consider giving him a grace period, especially because his top pitch depends on grip.

“He’ll pitch in a single or two games after which realize what he must do to get himself through those innings and games,” Robertson said. “I’m sure he adjusts thoroughly because you possibly can’t pitch that well and be that good at a sport without with the ability to adjust on the fly.”

Martinez went so far as wondering if Senga’s strikeout numbers would improve in the US, as Japanese hitters, in his experience, are more prideful about putting the ball in play than a few of their all-or-nothing M.L.B. counterparts.

“It’s not like playing in Japan is playing within the minor leagues or playing in college,” Robertson said. “It’s the massive leagues over there, too. Same game, different level, but I don’t see any issues with that.”

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