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The First Pitch: December 5, 2021

While baseball in America is on forced pause due to the lockout, there’s an assortment of news from Japan. Veteran infielder Freddy Galvis, seen in 2021 splitting his time between Philadelphia and Baltimore (batting .242 with 14 home runs), has decided he’ll play the 2022 season with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hanks. Deciding not to go the other way is 32-year-old pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano, who will remain with the Yomiuri Giants after rumors had him seeking a move to America; Sugano was 6-7 with a 3.19 ERA this past year, but over his past seven seasons owns a collective 82-45 record and very nice 2.29 ERA. 

Finally, the Seibu Lions held a fan appreciation event at a packed ballpark in which the main event was a retirement ceremony for 41-year-old pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, who pitched in MLB from 2007-14 and peaked in 2008 with an 18-3 record and 2.90 ERA for Boston. The highlight of the ceremony was a surprise appearance from Ichiro Suzuki, looking dapper in a suit with a bouquet of yellow flowers he presented to Matsuzaka. Since returning to Japan, Matsuzaka was used sparingly with unimpressive results; after skipping out on the 2020 campaign, he faced only one batter this past season, at season’s end—resulting in a walk.


It Was Whatever-Something Years Ago Today

1973: All-Star third baseman Ron Santo becomes the first player to take advantage of baseball’s recently enacted “10-and-5” rule, giving power to players with 10 years of major league experience and five with one team to veto any trade. The Cubs had hoped to send Santo the California Angels; he later agrees to a trade to the crosstown White Sox.


Shameless Link of the Day

Our latest interview with six-time All-Star first baseman Will Clark is now live. Check out what he has to say about how we earned his nickname (“The Thrill”), his recollections of his famed first career home run off Nolan Ryan, and his 1989 postseason performance—which almost became a footnote after the Loma Prieta earthquake interrupted that year’s World Series between the Giants and A’s.


You Say It’s Your Birthday

Brewers star hitter Christian Yelich is 30; Dodgers outfielder A.J. Pollock is 34; 2010s slugger Justin Smoak is 35; career .278 hitter of 17 seasons Cliff Floyd is 49. Born on this date is brief Red Sox star pitcher Boo Ferriss (1921), two-time All-Star catcher Gus Mancuso (1905) and 1890s pitcher Pink Hawley (1972).

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