On the surface, there was nothing special about Shintaro Fijunami’s outing on Tuesday. However, that performance meant something to the Oakland A’s pitcher.
Fujinami had dedicated his performance that night to his friend and former teammate on the Hanshin Tigers, Shintaro Yokota. Yokota had tragically passed away on Monday due to brain cancer at 28 years old.
Oakland A’s pitcher Shintaro Fujinami honours fallen teammate
Fujinami had the type of outing he would have hoped for given the context. He fired a scoreless inning, allowing just one hit as he picked up a hold in the A’s 3-0 victory. He had looked to the sky several times during his outing and even had a special emblem that he wore pregame in Yokota’s honour.
His outing continued a strong run for the Japanese reliever. Fujinami has allowed just five runs on 15 hits and six walks over his 18.1 innings since June 5, striking out 19 batters. After a rough start to his major league career, and bouncing between the rotation and bullpen, he appears to have found his footing as a solid reliever for the A’s.
Yokota had originally been diagnosed in 2017, being forced to retire as he underwent treatment. He was able to return for one final appearance in 2019, recording an outfield assist as he had recuperated. The tumor returned, metastasizing to his spinal cord in March 2022. Despite being told in the middle of May that he had just two weeks at most to live, he was able to celebrate his 28th birthday on June 9. That toughness was not a surprise to Tigers’ fans or his teammates as he battled the disease the same way he played – giving it everything he had.
Oakland A’s pitcher Shintaro Fujinami honoured fallen teammate Shintaro Yokota as best as he could. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family.