The three imports from the Dominican Republic – 3rd year veteran Mauro Gomez and newly-signed relievers Marcos Mateo and Rafael Dolis – arrived safely in Japan on January 27th. The two newcomers had a press conference at team headquarters the following day. Here is a brief look at what the press reported on all three players upon their arrival.
Mauro Gomez (31): Team manager Tomoaki Kanemoto did a surprise check-up on his slugger to see if he followed off-season orders (to lose at least 6 kg). “Looks like he passed. I’m guessing he lost around 6. It’s not just important to lose weight. He needs to keep his strength, too. I think he’ll be ready a lot earlier than usual.” Said Gomez, “This is the best shape I’ve ever been in. I’m glad to be back in Japan again.” He later added, “I haven’t stepped on a scale yet so I don’t know if I’ve lost weight or not. But I’m happy to see that the manager was surprised when he saw me.” Gomez arrived late for camp in 2014 after his newborn daughter had some health complications at the end of January. He was then late for camp in 2015 because of a stolen passport back in his homeland. This is the first year he is arriving on time, and he looks to be ready to set career highs.
Marcos Mateo (31): He boasts a 160 km/h fastball but he emphasizes that it is not always that fast (averages between 153 and 155) and that it is not his best pitch – he boasts a wicked slider, apparently. He also has a big, thick beard and dreadlocks (3 years in the making) – both of which he says are fairly popular among Dominican men. That having been said, the beard earned him the nickname “Barbesé” (sp?) in his homeland, and his Winter League numbers show that the look intimidated opposing batters, too: in 16 1/3 innings of work (17 games), he earned a win and 11 saves and allowed just one unearned run. He said that he heard that the Tigers were without a closer (Seung-hwan Oh was let go and has since signed with the MLB Cardinals) and that he will do what he can to fill the void.
Rafael Dolis (28): Also throws 160 km/h. During his time with the Chicago Cubs, he had a chance to talk with (then teammate) Kyuji Fujikawa. He always had an interest in Japan, and playing here was one of his dreams. When he talked more with Kyuji, he always got a good impression and had his questions answered well about Japan, and it made him all the more excited to play here. He says he is ready to throw in the 8th, 9th, or wherever the team needs him to contribute towards their victories.
We welcome our new guys to the team and hope Gomez’s presence (along with Nelson Perez, who has also already reported and is ready to head to camp in Kochi) will make them feel comfortable in their new environment and uniform. Bienvenida a Hanshin, hombres!