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As soon as he was in touch, Yoshi Tsutsugo watched the ball and aimed his bat 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, which in the ninth inning of the 4-0 win on Friday night against St. Louis Cardinals covered 100 yards.
The 29-year-old Japanese thug has three extra base hits in his first nine at-bats since signing with the Pirates on Monday after receiving his release from Los Angeles Dodgers had requested where he played for their Triple-A partner in Oklahoma 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 building your lead is important when you join a new club. ”
The reaction of the Pirates players said it all when they stepped on the railing in the dugout to tsutsugo to celebrate and congratulate. It was his first home run of the season, scoring .155 (16 for 103) in 25 games with the Tampa Bay Rays and Dodgers.
« My teammates gave me a very warm welcome, » said Tsutsugo via 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 either in the corner in the infield or in the outfield position – and he has started games in first base and left field for the Pirates – but his biggest impact has been as a pinch hitter. He hit a pinch hit that was doubled in the ninth inning of Monday’s 2-1 loss to the Dodgers, and then in his final homered against the Cardinals.
« I always try to see where we’re in Stand in order when the jug arrives and be 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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