Can Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, 33, make a comeback?

Can Japanese home run king Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, 33, make a comeback?

Tsutsugo went 1-for-2 with a walk and two RBIs in a pinch-hit appearance in Major League Baseball’s spring training exhibition game against the Chicago Cubs at Scottsdale Stadium in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Friday.

Tsutsugo grounded out to shortstop in the top of the sixth inning. He was batting seventh in the order. In his first at-bat in the bottom of the seventh inning, he grounded out to first base. But in the bottom of the ninth, Tsutsugo refused to be the last batter. With runners on second and third in the bottom of the ninth, he lined a double to right off Cubs’ Chris Kachmar. It was his first RBI of the exhibition game, as he was 0-8 and the deficit was tightening.

Otto Lopez followed with a two-run single to center field to bring Tsutsugo home and cut the Giants’ deficit to 4-8. It wasn’t enough to prevent the team from losing, but the Giants were able to avoid a sweep thanks to Tsutsugo in the opening game of the exhibition season.

Tsutsugo is indomitable.

He was one of the biggest names in Nippon Professional Baseball and the No. 4 hitter for the Japanese national team. He made his debut with the Yokohama DeNA BayStars in 2010 and went on to play 10 seasons until 2019, batting .910 with 205 home runs, 613 RBIs, and an OPS of .910 in 968 games (3426 at-bats, 977 hits). In 2016, he led the Central League in home runs with 44.

He garnered major league interest after representing Japan in the 2015 WBSC Premier12 and 2017 World Baseball Classic (WBC). After batting .272 with 29 home runs, 79 RBIs and an .899 OPS in 2019, Tsutsugo decided to challenge for the major leagues and signed a two-year, $12 million contract with Tampa Bay ahead of the 2020 season. In his debut on July 25, 2020, which was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 토토사이트 Tsutsugo hit a two-run home run off Toronto starter Ryu Hyun-jin (Hanwha Eagles) for his first career hit.

But Tsutsugo hasn’t been able to escape the slump since. In 2020, he struggled with accuracy, batting just 1-for-31 (157 at-bats) with Tampa Bay. His production wasn’t bad, with eight home runs, 24 RBIs, and a .708 OPS, but he couldn’t improve on his accuracy issues. He ended 2021 with Tampa Bay, batting 1-for-68 (13-for-78) with no home runs and a .462 OPS with five RBIs, and was designated for assignment (DFA) in mid-May.

He was then claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers,

But was released again after batting 1-for-12 in 12 games due to injury. He rebounded after being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 32 games, he batted .268 (34-for-127) with eight home runs, 25 RBIs, and an .883 OPS, raising expectations for the following season.

He re-signed for one year and $4 million, but struggled in 2022, going 1-for-7 with two homers, 19 RBI and a .478 OPS, and was released in early August. They finished the 2022 season with Toronto and signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers in 2023. He was solid in Triple-A, going 2-for-4 with six homers, 33 RBIs, and an .812 OPS, but he never received a big league call-up and was released via opt-out in June. After bouncing around the independent leagues last year, he signed a minor league contract with San Francisco and will try to resurrect his career with the Giants again this year.

Despite being released four times, the Japanese home run king’s ego was bruised, but Tsutsugo never let go of his desire to play in the big leagues. He hasn’t given up and continues to challenge himself. Despite rumors of a return to Japan, Tsutsugo always chose the major leagues.


Tsutsugo was once again reunited with his Korean teammate Lee Jung-hoo, who played with Choi Ji-Man (now with the New York Mets) in Tampa Bay in 2020 and 2021. “He knew how to say ‘hello,’ because he was in the Tampa Bay Rays with Ji Man-hyung (Choi),” Lee said, adding, “We feel like we’re fellow Asian players.”

“From my point of view, I have to produce results. That’s all I’m thinking about,” he said, adding, “You need a good mind and body to make good technique. I’ve been in the U.S. for five years now, and I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in.”

With an indomitable will, Tsutsugo is challenging to return to the major leagues again. Will we ever see him on the field with Lee Jung-hoo in a San Francisco uniform? Tsutsugo’s first hurdle in his quest to restore his pride has begun.

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