Forgotten Friars: Akinori Otsuka


Relief pitcher Akinori Otsuka was a fan favorite at Petco Park in 2004, 2005 and generated a huge buzz with the Japanese community. Every game the media box was busy with lots of Japanese media pub during Padres games.

More from Padres History

His relief pitching impact was known right away going 7-2 with a 1.75 ERA and 87 K’s finishing third in the N.L. Rookie of the Year voting, Khalil Greene finished second and traded-Friar then Buc Jason Bay won the N.L. Rookie of the year in 2004. 2005 his numbers slowed down with a record of 2-8 with a 3.59 ERA and 60 K’s. In 2006, Aki was part of a Padres benefited trade to the Texas Rangers along with SP Adam Eaton for now Dodgers 1B Adrian Gonzalez, Terrmel Sledge and comeback player of the year for 2014 SP Chris Young, who is now with the Seattle Mariners. That trade helped the Padres achieve a 2006 N.L. West division title.

Aki Otsuka did notch 32 saves with the Rangers in 2006, knowing the Ballpark in Arlington and how the ball travels, that was quite a feat! But, Otsuka pitched his last game for the Rangers in 2007.

Otsuka recently made an appearance at the winter meetings in San Diego this past week. Otsuka is now the pitching coach with the Chunichi Dragons in Japan of the Nippon Professional Baseball league. Aki was no doubt fun to watch pitch with his double-clutch movement to the mound, which drove some opposing managers crazy!