Fighters Otani, Tigers Fujinami to face off in preseason

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OSAKA, March 3 (18:58) Kyodo

The Nippon Ham Fighters' Shohei Otani and the Hanshin Tigers'
Shintaro Fujinami are likely to start against each other in a
preseason game on Saturday at Koshien Stadium, the first time the
right-handers will start a game versus each other since they turned

Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama hinted Sunday that Otani, who
is in his second year, will start. Tigers skipper Yutaka Wada,
meanwhile, said barring extenuating circumstances, he will go with
second-year Fujinami.

These two met for a pitchers' duel at the 2012 Spring Koshien
high school invitational, where Fujinami pitching for Osaka Toin beat
Otani's Hanamaki Higashi 9-2.

Otani, who is known for his prowess as a pitcher and batter,
homered off Fujinami in the same game. He also had two doubles off
his rival in interleague play last May. Last season, he was 3-0 with
a 4.23 ERA in 13 games.

"I'll have to be careful against all the batters. I want to make
sure I am able to shut them down," Otani said.

Fujinami, for his part, said he is not concerned since this is
still the preseason. "This is just preseason, so it isn't anything to
dwell on," said Fujinami, who went 10-6 with a 2.75 ERA in 24 games
in 2013.

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