NEW BRITAIN - The New Britain Bees brought in a new player on Tuesday and he contributed right away.
Nineteen-year-old Tsuyoshi Fujiwara was signed by the Bees from Japan before Tuesday’s home game against the Somerset Patriots, becoming the franchise’s youngest player ever. He was available that afternoon but not in the starting lineup. But with the Bees trailing 6-2, Fujiwara made his professional debut.
Facing Somerset’s Efrain Nieves, Fujiwara fell behind 0-2. But after looking at a ball, he smacked a double into the right field corner to score two runs and pull New Britain to within two runs of the Patriots.
Unfortunately, the Bees were unable to continue and complete the comeback but it was still a big moment in Fujiwara’s career. His English is not very strong but he was able to convey how much it meant to him.
“I’m high. Very, very high,” he said with a big smile. “Too exciting.”
Fujiwara got his second professional at-bat in Wednesday’s game and once again converted, hitting a single and scoring a run later in the same inning.
Bees bench and first base coach Daisuke Yoshida, who hails from the same city in Japan as Fujiwara (Kobe), liked what he saw from the youngster in his first professional at-bat.
“[When the count was] 0-1 and 0-2, he’s excited but after 0-2, he’s patient and relaxed and smooth,” he said.
Being from the same city and playing the same game, Yoshida and Fujiwara met back in Japan before Fujiwara joined the Bees.
“In Japan, he [held an] open tryout,” Fujiwara said of Yoshida. “So I tried out and we first met.”
That connection opened the door for Fujiwara to travel the 6,867 miles to New Britain and join the Bees.
“I have agent company then I help contract and teaching hitting and everything,” Yoshida said. “Then he signed.”
While he hasn’t been with the Bees long, Fujiwara is already having fun.
“Everyone is very kind to me,” he said. “I’m enjoying this team.”
Josh Kestenbaum can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @K_baum30