Shintaro Fujinami shines in spring training debut despite nerves

Feb 28, 2023; Mesa, Arizona, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Shintaro Fujinami (11) warms up
Feb 28, 2023; Mesa, Arizona, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Shintaro Fujinami (11) warms up / Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

How did Shintaro Fujinami do in his Oakland A's debut?

In a much anticipated debut, Japanese right-hander Shintaro Fujinami performed well against the Angels, despite showing some nerves in the second inning. 

Fujinami made his Cactus League debut with the Oakland A’s against Japanese rival Shohei Ohtani Tuesday in Mesa, Ariz. He did not disappoint in an abnormally electric spring training game against the Los Angeles Angels.

"Fuji" -- as he likes to be called -- struck out Angels second baseman David Fletcher to start the game, displaying his impressive high-90s fastball we’ve been hearing about throughout Spring Training. Second batter Luis Rengifo grounded a ball that deflected off of Fuji’s body, causing a brief scare, but Fuji appeared unfazed. Fuji continued to demonstrate his star-potential by striking out first baseman Jake Lamb and ending the inning with a pop out from right fielder Mickey Moniak. 

After a very strong first inning, Fuji’s nerves began to get the better of him in the second inning. Walking three batters in a row, the former Japanese star exhibited some command issues that have plagued his career. The nerves come as no surprise as A’s manager Mark Kotsay made note of them in an interview last week. 

But Fuji showed exceptional maturity on the mound, bouncing back quickly and regaining his composure. 

Overcoming the adversity, he then struck out Angels center fielder Aaron Whitefield, and a double-play off a groundball hit by shortstop Livan Soto ended the inning. Fuji wowed with his low-90s splitter that is among the fastest in the MLB. 

Limited to only 25 pitches, Fuji’s debut ended with 2 innings pitched, 1 hit, 0 runs, 3 walks, and 3 strikeouts. A very promising Major League debut performance for Fuji, even with taking control issues into account. The Oakland A’s hope to see Fuji continue to impress throughout Spring Training as many expect he will be a key piece of the A’s starting rotation this season.