Dodgers Spring Training: Freddie Freeman Praises ‘Incredible’ Yoshinobu Yamamoto

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Weeks after winning a frenzied free agency pursuit of Shohei Ohtani, the Los Angeles Dodgers added another Japanese native in Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who also joined the team with plenty of fanfare.

At just 25 years old, Yamamoto garnered interest from several teams looking for an ace to lead their pitching staff.

Although there are questions about his longterm durability, Yamamoto was posted for MLB free agency with three Nippon Professional Baseball Pacific League MVP Awards to his name in addition to winning the Eiji Sawamura Award — Japan’s version of the Cy Young — three seasons in a row.

The Dodgers have expressed confidence Yamamoto will acclimate himself well, and they got the first look at that on Saturday with a live batting practice session.

The right-hander dazzled in his first time facing batters this spring and left Freddie Freeman in awe, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group,

“I went up to (Yamamoto’s interpreter) and said, ‘Please say Incredible in Japanese’ because that was incredible,” said Freeman, one of several players who congratulated Yamamoto after the live BP session. “That was very impressive. The whole package, the calmness to be able to execute when everyone is watching you. It’s very very impressive.”

Freeman quickly became aware that batting against Yamamoto was going to be a tall order:

“That was incredible. Nasty,” Freeman said on the field immediately after managing to foul off two pitches during his at-bats against Yamamoto. “To go out there – first time, all eyes on you, all the hype – and just dot every pitch? Very impressive.”

Yamamoto also faced Mookie Betts, Austin Barnes, Max Muncy, Jason Heyward and Manuel Margot.

The throwing session drew a large crowd of Dodgers fans who attended the workout at Camelback Ranch, in addition to media, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, vice president of baseball operations and assistant general manager Jeff Kingston, and more.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s interpreter wins Dodgers’ buffalo wings event

While Yamamoto has been among the headlines of Dodgers Spring Training, his interpreter got a chance to be in the spotlight by winning the team’s annual buffalo wings competition.

Yoshihiro Sonoda is entering his first season as an MLB interpreter and when encouraged to give a speech, thanked the Dodgers organization for quickly embracing him and said it was obvious why Ohtani and Yamamoto chose to sign with the team.

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