Masataka Yoshida was a highly-touted player from the Nippon Professional Baseball, but he knows the transition to Major League Baseball won’t be an easy one.
The 29-year-old was a two-time Pacific League batting champion and four-time NPB All-Star while playing for the Orix Buffaloes for six seasons. The Boston Red Sox signed Yoshida this past offseason, and the outfielder has received positive reviews from the organization.
Yoshida has grown more acquainted with his new teammates after attending a Super Bowl party and trying different foods. But on the field, he’ll be entering into a new atmosphere, which doesn’t include the new rules MLB will implement this season.
The Japanese phenom is not the first player to make the transition from NPB to MLB, and Yoshida was asked at his spring training news conference Thursday if he received advice from any current players.
“I just briefly talked with Seiya Suzuki,” Yoshida told reporters via translator, per team video. “We didn’t have a deep conversation, just differences between U.S. and Japan. It’s a really good place to play baseball.”
The Cubs outfielder played his first MLB season in 2022 after six seasons with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. He was the first Chicago player to make their MLB debut as an Opening Day starter since Kosuke Fukudome in 2008. He was a contender for National League Rookie of the Year but lost out to Atlanta Braves outfielder Michael Harris II.
Yoshida is among the favorites to win Rookie of the Year, and he could do so if the transition from NPB to MLB is a seamless one.