Japan’s Kodai Senga Brings Ghost Fork Pitch to Mets

Japan’s Kodai Senga Brings Ghost Fork Pitch to Mets

Martinez added that Senga displayed “leadership qualities” in the clubhouse, and van den Hurk highlighted Senga’s sense of humor and sociability. Senga would drop one-liners in English so that he could interact with his foreign teammates, and van den Hurk believes those jokes will make him a hit in the Mets’ clubhouse as he continues to learn the language.

The adjustments Senga will have to make go beyond learning a language and facing new batters.

David Robertson, a right-handed reliever who signed with the Mets this off-season, competed against Senga in the Olympics. He was also there for Tanaka’s first season in the Bronx, and was a teammate of outfielder Seiya Suzuki, who made his major league debut with the Chicago Cubs last season. Based on his experiences with those players, Robertson said one issue is that the weather is typically warmer in Japan than it is in some of M.L.B.’s northern cities, especially early in the season, and that many N.P.B. teams play in domes.

It will be hard for Senga to deal with cold weather “right out of the gate,” Robertson said.

An M.L.B. job also comes with more travel, and most teams use five-man rotations, rather than six, the rotation in Japan. On the field, Senga will have to acclimate to a harder pitching mound and a larger baseball which doesn’t feature the tack Japanese pitchers are accustomed to. Between that and the weather, Mets fans may want to consider giving him a grace period, especially because his top pitch is dependent on grip.

“He’ll pitch in one or two games and then realize what he needs to do to get himself through those innings and games,” Robertson said. “I’m sure he adjusts very well because you can’t pitch that well and be that good at a sport without being able to adjust on the fly.”

Martinez went as far as wondering if Senga’s strikeout numbers would improve in the United States, as Japanese hitters, in his experience, are more prideful about putting the ball in play than some of their all-or-nothing M.L.B. counterparts.

“It’s not like playing in Japan is playing in the minor leagues or playing in college,” Robertson said. “It’s the big leagues over there, too. Same game, different level, but I don’t see any issues with that.”

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