World Baseball Classic MVP Shohei Ohtani and other Samurai Japan major leaguers have returned to their respective spring training homes in Arizona and Florida a week before the opening of the season.
St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbaar, whose personality and gutsy play helped him establish a big Japanese fan base while representing his mother's native country, appeared in an exhibition game Thursday in Jupiter, Florida, going 0-for-1 with a walk against the New York Yankees.
While expressing his wish to play for Japan again, Nootbaar told reporters Ohtani had surprised him with the gift of a wristwatch, saying the Los Angeles Angels two-way star joked he would take it back if Nootbaar did not rejoin Team Japan at the next WBC in 2026.
Ohtani, meanwhile, visited the Angels' spring training base in Tempe, Arizona. He is scheduled to pitch Friday against minor leaguers.
San Diego Padres pitcher Yu Darvish had a light workout after joining the team.
"There were many positive things, such as having good relations with young teammates," Darvish said of his WBC campaign. "I had a relaxing time at home yesterday, so I'm back and refreshed."
Outfielder Masataka Yoshida told reporters his new Boston Red Sox teammates congratulated him on Japan's victory.
"Yes, I've had a great response," said Yoshida, who will enter his major league rookie season after his clutch hitting helped Japan win close games.
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