clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Cubs introduce Shōta Imanaga to Chicago

The team held a news conference with the lefthander Friday afternoon.

Marquee Sports Network

The best thing about the news conference introducing Shōta Imanaga as the newest member of the Chicago Cubs was his opening statement, in which Imanaga said several sentences in English, including reciting a few phrases from Steve Goodman’s “Go Cubs Go.”

Whether Imanaga knew of the song previously or was told of it by Cubs folks on arrival in Chicago, that’s a great way for him to ingratiate himself with Cubs fans. He seemed genuinely happy to be in Chicago and excited to play at Wrigley Field, and later said through his translator Shingo Murata, “I try to be a funny guy on and off the field.”

Cubs President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer noted that the team had extensively scouted him in Japan — you’ll probably remember Hoyer took a long trip over there last September — and that the 45-day window in which Imanaga was posted did provide a specific deadline for signing. He compared it to “when a lot of trades get made close to July 31.”

Imanaga said that Seiya Suzuki was quite happy that Imanaga signed with the Cubs, almost as happy as when he (Suzuki) himself signed with the Cubs.

To a question posed about the change from a six-man rotation in NPB to a five-man rotation in MLB, Imanaga said he’d be open minded, give everything a try and make adjustments. It likely will be an adjustment — almost every Japanese player has that when coming to MLB. Most of them say the hardest part is adjusting to the travel and the different time zones, something that doesn’t exist in Japanese baseball.

Imanaga said his experience in the WBC gave him the idea that he wanted to face the challenge of facing MLB hitters. He met a few current players at the convention hotel and they welcomed him to the team — so I imagine he’ll be introduced at tonight’s Opening Ceremony to a rousing ovation.

He chose No. 18 in honor of Ben Zobrist, after looking into Cubs history. You can’t argue with the number that the 2016 World Series MVP wore. Imanaga wore No. 21 in Japan.

Lastly, he was asked about the pitch clock and said, “It’s a change, but sometimes I think too much on the mound so maybe it’s a good change.”

If you missed the news conference, or if you want to watch it again, here it is [VIDEO].