Red Sox Players Marvel At Masataka Yoshida’s WBC Performance

'That swing is natural'


March 23

Fresh off a stellar showing at the World Baseball Classic, Masataka Yoshida returned to the spring training camp of the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday.

While Yoshida felt tired from his strong contributing effort in helping Japan seize the WBC crown, his eye-opening performances energized his Red Sox teammates.

Yoshida was named to the WBC All-Tournament team as Boston’s prized free-agent signing this offseason batted a robust .409 with two home runs and a tournament-record 13 RBIs. He also only struck out once in seven games.

That level of production not only caught the attention of his Red Sox teammates, they also marveled at the first real chance to watch Yoshida’s skill set on display.

“Just a professional, professional at-bat to the highest level,” Justin Turner told The Athletic’s Chad Jennings. “It was unbelievable, the way he controlled the strike zone, the way he used the whole field, the way he hits with runners in scoring position, takes his walks. It was pretty impressive.”

Red Sox star Rafael Devers, who knows a thing or two about hitting, also was impressed by Yoshida’s offensive ability. Devers was somewhat in awe of Yoshida’s game-tying three-run home run off Mexico left-hander JoJo Romero in the semifinals, in which Yoshida golfed a low, inside pitch over the wall in right field.

“That swing is natural,” Devers told Jennings through a translator. “There’s nothing forced about it, and that’s a unique swing, so when you see him take that approach against that pitch, it’s really good.”

But what stood out the most about that seventh-inning home run to Trevor Story is Yoshida being unfazed by a pressure-packed moment and delivering in that situation.

“He’s pretty clutch,” Story told Jennings. “That was a big three-run home run. And just the way he stays through the ball is amazing. You could tell that he’s not scared to hit with two strikes, and to shoot the ball the other way is a big weapon of his. That gets me excited for what he can do at Fenway.”

Thumbnail photo via Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA TODAY Sports Images
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