Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Shohei Ohtani has been the main draw at Camelback Ranch since Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers and catchers reported for the start of Spring Training last week, but Yoshinobu Yamamoto is garnering plenty of attention in his own right.
Less than two weeks after landing Ohtani, the Dodgers signed Yamamoto to a 12-year, $325 million contract. The 25-year-old received the richest deal for a pitcher in MLB history, and now is expected to lead a Dodgers starting rotation that underwent a significant overhaul during the offseason.
Like Walker Buehler, Tyler Glasnow, Brusdar Graterol, Evan Phillips and others, Yamamoto has already thrown his first official bullpen session of Spring Training.
Gavin Lux stepped into the batter’s box to track pitches from Yamamoto and came away thoroughly impressed, via Jack Harris of the L.A. Times:
“Really nasty,” said Lux, who stood in at the plate for part of Yamamoto’s bullpen. “Everything is firm. The splitter plays like it’s 90-92. Fastball feels firmer than 94-95. The curveball, everything. It’s a four-pitch mix for a strike. And the little slide step he does makes everything play up. I think he’s gonna have a lot of success really fast.”
While Yamamoto remained a free agent, many throughout the sport projected he would become an ace for whichever team signed him. Some have questioned how Yamamoto’s stature — he’s listed at 5’10 and 175 pounds — and pitching once a week in the Nippon Professional Baseball schedule would translate to Major League Baseball, but the Dodgers are plenty confident.
General manager Brandon Gomes and manager Dave Roberts have both acknowledged the possibility of utilizing a six-man starting rotation on occasion, but the Dodgers also figure to benefit from off days on the early portion of their 2024 schedule.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto trains with javelin
Part of the Dodgers’ confidence in Yamamoto being able to withstand the rigors of pitching in the Major Leagues is his meticulous training regimen that includes throwing a javelin.
“It’s impressive, and it worked,” Yamamoto’s agent Joel Wolfe said after the introductory press conference at Dodger Stadium. “And a lot of the work that he does is injury prevention-type stuff. So I think that gave the Dodgers a lot of comfort in giving them such a lengthy contract.”
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