Release, release, release, release, release, release… Indomitable Japanese National Team No. 4 batsman takes another shot at ML

Posted Posted onAugust 22, 2023 Comments0

Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (32), a one-time No. 4 hitter for Japan’s national team, continues to struggle in the United States. With another minor league contract, Tsutsugo is once again trying to make it to the big leagues.

“Tsutsugo has agreed to a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants,” Japanese media outlets, including Sports Illustrated, reported in unison on Nov. 21. Once Tsutsugo passes his medical exam, he will wear a San Francisco uniform and seek promotion to the major leagues.

Tsutsugo is a proven left-handed slugger who batted fourth for Japan in the 2017 World Baseball Classic (WBC). He spent 10 seasons with the Yokohama DeNA Basestars of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), batting .285 with 205 home runs and 613 RBIs. In 2016, he led the NPB Central League in home runs and RBIs. With a proven track record in Japan, he decided to challenge himself in the big leagues after the 2019 season, signing a two-year, $12 million deal with the Tampa Bay Rays in their postseason system.

However, Tsutsugo struggled to adjust to the big leagues. The former Japanese slugger was repeatedly designated for assignment, which narrowed his options. In Tampa Bay, he found himself competing with then-first baseman Ji-Man Choi (now of the San Diego Padres), who was released without fulfilling his contract after batting just .197 with eight home runs and 24 RBIs in 51 games in 2020. In effect, he lost the competition to Choi.

Tsutsugo’s bad luck didn’t end there. In 2021, he tried to make a comeback with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but was released again after batting .120 with two RBIs in 12 games.

He was able to continue his chances with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are a prospect-oriented organization. In 2021, Tsutsugo hit .268 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 43 games, earning a one-year contract with Pittsburgh. Of course, the happiness didn’t last long. Tsutsugo struggled last year, batting .171 with two home runs and 19 RBIs in 50 games before being released once again.메이저사이트

With Pittsburgh as his last stop, he never received another major league call-up. He signed minor league contracts with the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers, but never made the big league roster and was released one after another.

NPB teams continued to reach out to Tsutsugo as he struggled. Several teams, including his hometown team Yokohama, offered him a stable career in Japan, but he chose to remain in the United States. He played for the Staten Island Ferry Hawks of the Atlantic League in the American Independent League before talks of a minor league deal with San Francisco began. He caught San Francisco’s eye after batting .479 (14-for-39) with seven home runs, 13 RBIs, and a 1.429 OPS in 12 games in the independent league.

San Francisco is in second place in the National League West with a 65-59 record through 21 games. They are 11.5 games behind the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers, but are also in second place in the National League Wild Card race, keeping their fall baseball hopes alive.

Nikkan Sports reports that left-handers Mike Yastrzemski and Brandon Crawford, like Tsutsugo, are on the disabled list. Major League Baseball will implement a 28-man expanded roster in September, and players will be eligible for the postseason if they are on the 40-man roster by Sept. 1.” The team hopes that Tsutsugo, who has persevered in the United States despite numerous setbacks, will live out his dream in San Francisco.


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