Tagged in: japan

Padres reportedly sign RHP Nick Martinez

The Padres reportedly signed RHP Nick Martinez to a four-year contract worth $20 million.

However, the deal did not get done before the current MLB lockout.

Once the deal is completed and official, Martinez will have opt-outs after each of the first two seasons, but the Padres will hope he becomes a critical part of the Padres rotation. He’ll be a free agent until the lockout ends.

Martinez, who spent four campaigns with the Texas Rangers from 2014-2017, played the past four years in Japan.

The veteran pitcher owns a 3.44 ERA over his career in the NPB, but posted a stellar 1.62 ERA for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in 2021. These numbers prompted the Padres to make a move. Martinez also pitched in the Tokyo Olympics for Team USA, as they secured a silver medal. 

Martinez actually played second base for most of his collegiate career at Fordham. He pitched in 15 matches, and the Rangers chose to develop him as a pitcher. The native of Miami was drafted in the 18th round of the 2011 Major League draft but worked his way up the ranks quickly.

Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.

He made his professional debut in the Arizona Complex League and pushed his way up to Double-A in the 2013 season. After a strong spring training, he was named as the fifth starter for the Texas Rangers for the 2014 season. He made 29 appearances for the Rangers, counting 24 starts.

Martinez pitched 140.1 innings, posted a 4.55 ERA and a 1.461 WHIP. His season highlight came on September 23, when he threw 6.2 scoreless innings and permitted just five hits versus the Astros. 

Martinez also pitched well in 2015, posting a career-best 3.96 ERA in 125 innings and 21 starts. That year, he did lead the major leagues in hit batters.

Unfortunately, he struggled in 2016, splitting time between the Rangers and Triple-A Round Rock. Ultimately, he made 12 appearances and just five starts for the Rangers. The pitcher didn’t perform very well in his limited time, posting a 5.59 ERA.

He did get extended opportunities in 2016.

The right-handed pitcher made 23 appearances and 18 starts in the 2017 season, as he pitched 111.1 innings, but struggled again, putting up a 5.56 ERA.

Nick Martinez hit free agency after the season, and after struggling in his previous two seasons, there wasn’t much interest from teams in the States.

The veteran pitcher signed a one-year deal with the Nippon Ham-Fighters. He put together a strong season recording a 3.51 ERA, which was enough to get him another one-year contract for the 2019 season.  

That year, Martinez put up a 3.51 ERA for the second consecutive season, pitching in 161.2 innings and striking out 93 batters in the process.

For the 2020 season, Nick Martinez re-signed with the Ham-Fighters. But in 17 appearances, the pitcher struggled. Martinez was only able to produce a 4.62 ERA and became a free agent after the season ended.

The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks came calling, and he has been stellar. His 1.62 ERA came in 149.2 innings, and his career-best professional season earns him a contract with the Padres. 

The veteran right-handed pitcher will compete with players such as Chris Paddack and MacKenzie Gore to make the back end of the rotation. If he doesn’t make the rotation, he’ll factor into the bullpen to some degree.

His time in Japan helped him develop, and he’ll look to be a major player in the Padres pitching staff in 2022 and beyond.

Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.

Naomi Osaka ousted from Olympic tennis tournament in 3rd round by Marketa Vondrousova

It wasn’t the ending that tennis superstar Naomi Osaka — nor her fans across Japan and worldwide — had expected for the Tokyo Olympics.

Osaka lost to former French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-4 in the third round of the Olympic tennis tournament on Tuesday.

“I’m disappointed in every loss, but I feel like this one sucks more than the others,” said Osaka, who called lighting the Olympic cauldron during last week’s opening ceremony in Tokyo “undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life.”

As the highest-paid female athlete in the world and the host country’s face of the Games, the huge expectations were hard to handle. “I definitely feel like there was a lot of pressure for this,” Osaka said. “I think it’s maybe because I haven’t played in the Olympics before and for the first year [it] was a bit much.”

Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.

The second-ranked Osaka, who was born in Japan and grew up in the United States, struggled with her usually reliable groundstrokes, while the left-handed Vondrousova produced a series of drop-shot winners and other crafty shots that drew her opponent out of her comfort zone.

“It’s tough for her also playing in Japan and in the Olympics,” the 42nd-ranked Vondrousova said. “It’s so much pressure, I cannot imagine.”

Osaka won her opening two matches in consecutive sets following a two-month mental health break. But conditions were different Tuesday with the roof closed because it was raining outside.

Osaka had talked earlier this week about how “happy” she was to be playing again. That came after she announced in May going into the French Open that she wouldn’t speak to reporters at that tournament, saying those interactions create doubts for her.

“I’ve taken long breaks before and I’ve managed to do well,” said Osaka, who initially did not comment after her loss, then came back out and met with a small group of reporters. “I’m not saying that I did bad right now, but I do know that my expectations were a lot higher.

“I feel like my attitude wasn’t that great because I don’t really know how to cope with that pressure, so that’s the best that I could have done in this situation.”

Playing Osaka for the first time, Vondrousova came out with her entire game clicking from the start and quickly ran out to a 4-0 lead in the first set as Osaka hardly had time to gather herself.

Osaka then broke Vondrousova’s serve in the opening game of the second set but almost immediately handed the break back when she double-faulted to make it 2-2.

After Osaka lost her serve again to end the match by hitting a cross-court backhand wide, she shook hands with Vondrousova at the net, walked to her chair, zipped her racket up in her bag and followed Vondrousova off the court.

But it wasn’t simply an off day for Osaka; it was also an outstanding performance from Vondrousova.

“I also [beat] Simona [Halep] twice, but I think now she [Osaka] is the greatest,” Vondrousova said. “The greatest in the game, and she was also the face of the Olympics, so it was tough for her, I think, to play like this.”

During one point midway through the second set, Vondrousova hit an underspin, scooped forehand approach shot that landed right on the line — prompting Osaka to stare at the line for a few seconds in apparent disbelief.

Osaka had break points to take a 4-3 lead in the second, but Vondrousova hit consecutive drop-shot winners to get back in the game. And then held.

About 10 minutes later, the match was over.

“I just really believed the second I stepped on the court,” Vondrousova said. “I think that that’s the main thing.” Vondrousova’s quarterfinal opponent will be either Paula Badosa of Spain or Nadia Podoroska of Argentina.

Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.

Team USA falls to 0-2 in Olympic exhibitions after loss to Australia

Team USA might indeed win its fourth successive Olympic gold next month in Tokyo. But if they do, it will be a story of overcoming adversity.

The Americans lost their second consecutive exhibition Monday, this time bested by Australia 91-83 in Las Vegas. Dating to the 2019 World Cup, where they concluded seventh, Team USA has lost four of their past five matches.

It also has lost two in a row now to Australia, a team expected to contend for the gold in Japan.

Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.

It was a better showing than the loss to Nigeria on Saturday but just reading those words is a little mind-boggling considering the pedigree of this roster and coaching staff. Damian Lillard, who had 22 points, and Kevin Durant, who had 17 points, definitely looked more like All-Stars. But in the end, they weren’t able to deliver clutch shots.

The final indignity came with one minute to play and the U.S. down five as Jayson Tatum tossed up an air ball on a corner 3-point try. It was better than the next possession, which resulted in a turnover.

The execution differential between the teams was glaring.

Over and over and over the Aussies were able to throw passes into the middle to players either wide open from great cuts or in an advantageous matchup.

Maybe it’s a little early in this process for heavy game planning but it was clear that Australia felt it could take advantage of a relatively small U.S. roster.

Patty Mills, who has long been a star for his national team, had 22 points. Joe Ingles had 17 and the Aussies concluded shooting 53% for the game.

Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.

Matsuyama makes history with Masters triumph

Hideki Matsuyama made history on Sunday as the first male golfer from Japan to collect a major championship.

Ten years after making a sterling debut as the best amateur at Augusta National, Matsuyama claimed the ultimate trophy with a triumph in the Masters.

Matsuyama closed with a 1-over 73 and a one-shot victory that was only close at the end, and never seriously in doubt after Xander Schauffele‘s late charge ended with a triple bogey on the par-3 16th.

Moments before Dustin Johnson helped him into the green jacket, Matsuyama needed no interpreter in Butler Cabin when he said in English, “I’m really happy.”

So masterful was this performance that Matsuyama stretched his lead to six shots on the back nine until a few moments of drama. With a four-shot lead, he went for the green in two on the par-5 15th and it bounded hard off the back slope and into the pond on the 16th hole.

Matsuyama did well to walk away with bogey, and with Schauffele making a fourth consecutive birdie, the lead was down to two shots with three to play.

Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.

The next swing all but ended it. Schauffele’s tee shot on the par-3 16th bounced of the hill and dribbled into the pond. His third shot from the drop area went into the gallery. He wound up with a triple-bogey 6.

Never mind that Matsuyama bogeyed three of his last four holes.

All that mattered was that uphill walk to the 18th green, needing only to blast out of the bunker and take two putts for the victory.

That’s what he did, a final bogey for a one-shot victory over 24-year-old Masters rookie Will Zalatoris, who closed with a 70 and stayed on the practice range just in case of a playoff.

Matsuyama ended at 10-under 278 for his 15th victory worldwide, and his sixth on the PGA Tour.

He was far from a sure thing, closing at 40-1 to win the tournament at Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill. Matsuyama could be found upward of 60-1 prior to the tournament at some sportsbooks, making him one of the biggest long shots to win Masters since Danny Willett in 2016.

He was not a popular choice for bettors either. As of Thursday, he accounted for only 1% of the money that had been wagered on the odds to win the Masters at William Hill sportsbooks.

Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.