Dylan Hernandez: The Japanese baseball star Seiya Suzuki is MLB-ready, invites you to compare with AJ Pollock | Sports

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TOKYO – The baseball sailed over the right field wall and every row of seats behind it.

Seiya Suzuki’s homerun in Japan’s 10-inning, 7-6 win over the United States started near here, about 25 miles northeast of Yokohama Stadium in Tokyo’s Arakawa district.

There, in a room in his family home that his father had converted into an indoor batting cage, Suzuki embarked on a journey that made him Japan’s clearer at those Olympics – and one day his next high-profile Land is supposed to export to the major leagues.

The story sounded familiar to me, a disciplinary father who trained his son in the Machiya neighborhood of Arakawa. That was also the plot of the early parts of “Kyojin No Hoshi” or “The Star of the Giants”, a series comic in which the main character was a baseball player named Hyuma Hoshi.

Fifty years after the last episode aired, the animated version of “Kyojin No Hoshi” remains a touchstone of Japanese culture, so pretty much anyone of all ages can tell the opening song after hearing the first few notes. In 2006 a variety show on TV Tokyo presented Suzuki and his father as the “Hoshis of the Heisei era”.

Suzuki, then a fifth grader, was shown at the soft toss.

If Suzuki’s foundation was laid by traditional Japanese training methods that emphasize repetition, his development as the most versatile player in Nippon Professional Baseball is something he attributes to more modern methods, which include weight training.

In both the Japan national team and Hiroshima Carp, Seiya Suzuki wears the same No. 51 popularized by Ichiro Suzuki but does not share the beliefs of his childhood hero who once argued against weight training by saying “You can” Don’t change the balance you were born with. Tigers and lions don’t lift weights. “

Seiya Suzuki sculpted his nearly 6-foot frame into a 215-pound package of solid muscle.

“There are more players from Japan going to the majors so we hear about these things,” Suzuki said in Japanese. “Therefore, our training times are shorter and we concentrate more on physical training.”

The 26-year-old is open to his dream of one day becoming a player who sends home the latest trends in the major leagues.

“Of course,” said Suzuki. “I think everyone feels they want to play at the highest level when they get the chance.”

He should.

“He’s been the best player in Japan in recent years,” said a Major League scout who compared Suzuki to current Dodgers outfielder AJ Pollock when Pollock was an All-Star at the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Suzuki won a hit title two years ago when he hit .335. He’s beaten 25 or more homers in the past five years. He stole up to 25 bases in one season. He won four gold gloves. And he can throw, his fastball hit 92 mph when he hit in high school.

“He’s a five-tool guy,” said the same scout.

Because of this, it made sense when Suzuki announced that the Major League player he admires most is Mike Trout.

Suzuki will be eligible for the international free agency after the 2023 season, according to another major league scout familiar with the details of his tenure. But Suzuki is supposed to move to the US first, because the small market carp could earn several million dollars by making it available through the booking system.

Suzuki laughed when asked if he could join the majors after this season.

“I wonder,” he said.

Suzuki looked over at a Japanese reporter who was standing nearby and asked, “Can I?”

The reporter laughed too.

“A Japanese reporter cannot ask such a question directly,” said the reporter.

Suzuki laughed again.

He stayed in a good mood and laughed again when asked if he’d watched Shohei Ohtani wipe out Major League pitching, which gave him confidence that he would do well if he moved overseas.

“Not at all,” he said. “I’m as old as Shohei. I think he’s amazing. He’s the first person my age who shocked me. “

Suzuki has done a lot himself, even if he has not traveled to the other end of the world like Ohtani. On the approximately 40 kilometers between Arakawa and Yokohama Stadium, the curiosity of the neighborhood turned him into a national hero. And in the relatively near future, the boy who was once dubbed the future star of the Giants could become the star of a major league franchise instead.

© 2021 Los Angeles Times. Visit latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Copyright 2021 Tribune Content Agency.


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