OAKLAND -- It takes a lot for the Athletics to put together a press conference for a free-agent signing, given that the last one had taken place more than a decade ago. That’s what made Tuesday morning so significant.
Rather than just organizing a simple Zoom call, the A’s invited members of the media to their team headquarters on the waterfront shores of Downtown Oakland at Jack London Square to introduce Japanese right-hander Shintaro Fujinami, whom they signed to a one-year contract last week. It marked the first news conference held by the A’s to introduce a free agent since 2012, when they signed Japanese infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima.
“It’s been a while since we had a press conference and a day this exciting here,” said A’s general manager David Forst. “It’s exciting to welcome Shintaro Fujinami to the Oakland A’s. It’s been a fun week.”
Upon finalizing the deal with their new pitcher, members of the A’s front office spent the past week showing Fujinami around the Bay Area. Activities included dinner at the famed Claremont Hotel in Berkeley and side sessions at the UC Berkeley campus with Cal baseball coach Mike Neu, a former A’s reliever.
On Tuesday, Forst presented a home white Athletics jersey and a green-and-gold A’s hat to Fujinami, who was joined by agent Scott Boras and interpreter Issei Yamada. Determined to improve his English, Fujinami began the conference with a full statement in the language.
“Hi, nice to meet everyone,” he said. “I’m Shintaro Fujinami. Please call me ‘Fuji,’ like Mt. Fuji. First of all, I would like to say thank you to my parents. Without their support, I wouldn’t be standing here right now.
“Second of all, I want to thank Hanshin Tigers for my 10 years of my professional career in Japan. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to pitch against the best hitters in the world.
“Lastly, I would like to thank the Oakland A’s organization, GM David Forst and my agent Scott Boras for believing in me. To my fans, I promise that I will do my best to show you my appreciation through my performance. I’m very excited to play for the Oakland A’s and pitch in the best league in the world. Go Oakland A’s!”