Sure, the other guy the Dodgers picked up over the weekend isn’t as decorated as future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols, but the LA front office is looking for just as much production out of him. Yoshi Tsutsugo came to the Dodgers from the Tampa Bay Rays in a trade last Saturday and got into his first starting lineup on Tuesday.
Before the game, Yoshi called it an honor to join the Dodgers and said he’s looking to fit right in with the club and with the rich Japanese culture here in Los Angeles. But perhaps most importantly — at least on paper — is what he can do at the plate with his new team.
“I’m watching a lot of video footage of my old days,” Tsutsugo said through a translator. “I’m trying to regain my swing that I had in Japan. It’s not that I want to get my Japanese swing back. But it’s more like I want to get the good stuff that I had and just include it in my swing that I have right now.”
In his first effort in blue, the new utility man worked two walks in four plate appearances while playing left field. Of course, the Dodgers didn’t pick him up to earn walks. Manager Dave Roberts said recently that the hitting coaches were already working on finding fixes for Yoshi-san’s swing before the club even officially picked him up.
“Yoshi hasn’t really had any traction here in the States, but this is a professional ballplayer and so our baseball ops guys did a real great job of kind of digging in on Yoshi as the person, the ballplayer and the bat and the versatility. … He can hit. His actions are real. The ball comes off the bat and he’s a professional hitter.”
In 77 previous MLB games, Tsutsugo put together a lackluster .187 average with 8 home runs and 29 runs batted in. However, in his native Japan, the slugger hit .285 with 205 homers over his 10-year NPB career.
“It’s more like finding my timing and getting back my swing that I used to have in Japan,” Tsutsugo added. “And really communicating with the coaches.”
Yoshi and the team will continue to dial in his swing while he gets acclimated to a new system in LA. With the Dodgers, the 29-year-old is expected to play left field, some first base, and some third.