Yoshi Tsutsugo’s first home run for Pirates is given a warm welcome by his teammates

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As soon as he made contact, Yoshi Tsutsugo watched the ball and aimed his stick at the home bullpen in the right midfield of the Busch Stadium while the ball sailed over Lars Nootbaar’s outstretched glove.

Tsutsugo’s first home run for the Pittsburgh Pirates was a solo shot that covered 90 yards in the ninth inning of the 4-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night.

The 29-year-old Japanese thug has had three extra base hits in his first nine at-bats since signing with the Pirates on Monday after petitioning for his release from the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he won for their Triple-A Partner in Oklahoma played city.

“He had good bats,” said Pirates manager Derek Shelton. “He had the two doubles on the LA series. His first was a pinch hit double. Good turns, but getting in right there and expanding your lead is important when you join a new club. “

The reaction of the Pirates players said it all as they stepped on the railing on the dugout to celebrate and congratulate Tsutsugo. It was his first home run of the season, hitting 0.155 (16 for 103) in 25 games with the Tampa Bay Rays and Dodgers.

“My teammates gave me a very warm welcome and give me a very warm welcome,” said Tsutsugo of a team translator, “which also makes it easier for me.”

The pirates are fascinated by Tsutsugo’s power. He has made 205 homers in 10 seasons in the Nippon Professional Baseball League, including 44 in 2016. He had eight homers and 24 RBIs with the Rays last year, which would have led the Pirates in RBIs and ranked second in Homers.

Tsutsugo can play in either corner infield or outfield position – and he’s started games in first base and left field for the Pirates – but his biggest impact was as a pinch hitter. He scored a pinch-hit double in the ninth inning of Monday’s 2-1 loss to the Dodgers, then homered in his last, against the Cardinals.

“I always try to see where we are in the order when the mug comes and keep me ready,” said Tsutsugo. “I’m really happy to be able to do my first home run with my new team. It really makes me want to keep going, keep working for the rest of the season. “

Kevin Gorman is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or on Twitter .



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