Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japanese baseball star Shohei Otani of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters officially announced his desire on Saturday to move to the U.S. major leagues using a posting system.
“I’ve conveyed my thoughts to the club and gained permission,” the 23-year-old two-way player said at a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo. “I hope to play in the United States from next year.”
At a meeting on Friday with Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama and the club’s president, Kenso Takeda, Otani expressed his intention to play in the United States, and the club confirmed that it will allow him to move to the major leagues under the posting system.
Otani joined the Fighters, a team in the Pacific League, in 2013 after graduating from Hanamaki Higashi high school in Iwate Prefecture and shined as a both right-handed pitcher and left-handed batter.
The club, based in Sapporo, approved Otani’s possible move to the major leagues during negotiations on contract renewal after the 2016 season.
Asked at the press conference whether he will continue playing as both pitcher and batter in the United States, Otani said that he wants to ask the question to a team to which he would move during negotiations. “I’d like to put myself in an environment where I can improve myself,” he said.