Wednesday morning kicked off in Cincinnati with the Reds introducing their newest outfielder Shogo Akiyama to the local media at a press conference.
“The fact that there’s never been a Japanese player here in Cincinnati was something that was very attractive. And the fact that the presentation material was very inspiring, it made me want to play here,” said Shogo Akiyama. “A lot of teams were involved (in the process of free agency). The Reds were the first team that made an offer to me. I was inspired by their passion to how much they wanted me.”
While he’s the first Japanese born player to sign with the Cincinnati Reds, he’s not the first player to make the transition to the United States. But as we noted two weeks ago the number of hitters that have come over in the last decade is rather small – just four position players have come over and gotten more than 200 plate appearances – and only Nori Aoki has gotten more than 800. It’s not surprising that he was one of the players that Akiyama reached out to.
“(Nori) Aoki was the first person that I spoke to and he gave me a lot of advice as far as how things are and approach things here. And I’ve always been inspired to be like Ichiro, so those two players were the players that I got advice from,” said Akiyama when asked about others that he sought advice from about coming to the Major Leagues from Japan.
With a very crowded outfield, at least as currently constructed, the question of where Shogo Akiyama will play is a question that many had. He spent a majority of his time in center field while playing in Japan, but did see some limited action in both corners during his career, too.
“As far as a position is concerned, wherever the team needs me to play is what I’ll do. In Japan I played center field, but wherever the Reds feel like I can contribute, that’s what I’ll do,” said the outfielder about where he expects to play defensively.
Nick Martini designated for assignment
With the signing of Shogo Akiyama being official, the Cincinnati Reds needed to create a spot on the 40-man roster for him. That led to the organization designating outfielder Nick Martini for assignment. He played for the Oakland and San Diego franchises in Triple-A (Oakland) and the Major Leagues in 2019. The Reds picked him up off of waivers on November 25th from the Padres.