Former Boston Red Sox and 2013 World Series champion Koji Uehara is six years removed from his last Major League Baseball appearance, but he isn’t through making an impact for a big league squad.
After the 2023 World Baseball Classic concluded in thrilling fashion Tuesday night, which Uehara was on the Japanese broadcast for, the 47-year-old paid a visit to the New York Mets’ spring training camp facility Wednesday. No, Uehara wasn’t seeking an audition. Instead, he wanted to meet with Kodai Senga before embarking on his first big league campaign in 2023.
“He told me what baseball was like, what the big leagues were like when he played and what it’s like now,” Senga told reporters, translated from Japanese, per SNY video. “… He didn’t really give me any specific pointers or anything. But he just told me about what his experience was like.”
Before taking his talents to MLB, Senga previously spent 11 seasons with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball, notching a 2.59 ERA with a 28.22% strikeout rate and a 9.33% walk rate over the course of 1,089 total innings pitched.
The Mets came knocking on Senga’s door during the offseason, agreeing to a five-year deal worth $75 million back in December.
“He thought he was in the way, so to speak. We love having (Uehara) around,” Mets manager Buck Showalter told reporters, per SNY video. “… I really appreciate him coming over. … He’s a well-respected pitcher. Very successful in the big leagues. But I think that Senga enjoyed having him here and being able to ask some questions. That was the whole idea.”
Uehara, who also began his professional baseball career in the NBP, lasted nine years in the big leagues after making the jump to the MLB back in 2009 with the Baltimore Orioles.