LOS ANGELES — With Election Day next week, perhaps it’s timely to report that Shohei Otani has procured a significant endorsement.
“Of course,” the Dodgers’ Yu Darvish said Tuesday through his interpreter, when asked if he knew the next great Japanese player. “He’s from Japan. He’s played in Japan for the same team [the Nippon Ham Fighters]. So I’ve seen him so many times and worked out with him.
“It’s really hard to tell. You never know what’s going to happen here. I know he’s a great player, and I just don’t think he’s going to have bad numbers here. That’s all I can say.”
That’s plenty, isn’t it? Otani, the 23-year-old who excels in both pitching and hitting — and has made clear his desire to do both in Major League Baseball — is expected to be posted by the Fighters to MLB this coming winter. Should that happen, the competition for his services will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen, because the rules of the collective bargaining agreement — in conjunction with the money teams already have spent on international free agents under 25 — severely limit Otani’s compensation to a signing bonus of roughly $4 million.
Therefore, Otani will make a decision that truly won’t be based on finances; any attempts by teams to guarantee huge extensions down the line will be monitored by the Commissioner’s Office.
Count on the Yankees, whose general manager Brian Cashman traveled to Japan to personally witness an Otani start, to be at the forefront of the scrum to land him. Every indication is that the Yankees agree with Darvish: They just don’t think that Otani is going to have bad numbers here.
Darvish appeared in the Dodger Stadium interview room before Game 6 as the Dodgers’ Game 7 starter, in case that was necessary, which served as a break of protocol. Customarily, the Game 7 starter doesn’t address the media unless or until the series actually gets to a Game 7. He did us a favor, though. The 31-year-old free agent-to-be has found himself in the middle of seemingly every storyline in this Fall Clbadic.
So here he is on a few other issues of the Series:
“After the game I came back in the dugout, and one of the Dodgers employees came to me and said, ‘Hey, this is what happened, they caught it on camera,’ ” Darvish said. “I didn’t think it was going to be this big of a deal. I was telling my interpreter that, ‘Hey, maybe this is going to be a big deal after the game.’ And it did [become one].
“But to me I wasn’t that frustrated at that point when I saw it the first time. And then after the game, he contacted us and said, ‘Hey, I’d like to meet you in person and apologize,’ but I told him, ‘Hey, you don’t have to do that, because you made a comment, and, like, I’m not that mad.’ So … I really didn’t care much about that.”
Logically from that, Darvish offered no opinion on whether he thought Gurriel’s penalty was appropriate.
“[In Game 3], I threw a bullpen session with a regular-season ball,” Darvish said. “… And after the game I came back and I realized that … I couldn’t finish my pitches. I couldn’t get that final touch. And then it just didn’t make sense.
“And then I read about the ball being slick. And I really didn’t know if it was my physical thing and mechanical adjustment that I had to make or the ball. I can’t really say it.”
That Darvish appeared most opinionated on Otani should encourage clubs even more to take a shot at the pitcher-hitter.