Thus spoke Akinori
Reliever Akinori Otsuka spoke with Japanese reporters this week, the first time he has spoken publicly since the Rangers signed Eric Gagne in December.
Otsuka was the Rangers closer last year, saving 32 of 36, but is being moved back to the eighth inning so that Gagne can close. General manager Jon Daniels said Otsuka was "disappointed" at no longer being the Rangers closer and that apparently is the case.
According to Japanese news reports, Otsuka said, "I am very proud of myself as a closer. In fact, I had a good record last season.I am preparing for keeping my closer role.
"I believe I would be a closer after spring camp withour any injuries. I am ready to compete. If there is the team which needs me as a closer, I am going to think about (the trade)".
The Rangers don’t seem to have any plans to trade Otsuka. He seems to be worth more to them as an eighth-inning reliever than what other teams are offering. Plus the Rangers aren’t completely sure that Gagne is over his elbow and back injuries although the reports out of Arizona have been extremely positive.
Pitchers and catchers report in just a little more than a month. Could be an intriguing situation.