Tsutsugo joins Bucs, his third team in '21

August 17th, 2021

LOS ANGELES -- For the second time this season, Yoshi Tsutsugo has found himself joining a new ballclub.

Tsutsugo signed with the Pirates on Monday after already being traded from the Rays to the Dodgers in mid-May, then released by the Dodgers on Saturday.

Now with Pittsburgh, the Japanese slugger is looking to make the most of his latest opportunity.

“[This season] has been a lot, but at the same time, the fact that I am able to come back to play in the Majors definitely means a lot,” Tsutsugo said through an interpreter.

Tsutsugo joined the Pirates after batting .155 with a .451 OPS in 38 games between Tampa Bay and Los Angeles. After joining the Dodgers, he spent time on the IL with a right calf strain before being sent outright to Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he hit 10 homers, drove in 32 runs and had an .868 OPS in 43 games.

Pirates manager Derek Shelton said the advancement from Tsutsugo’s swing while in the Minors played a factor in the acquisition.

“I think we identified liking the impact in the ball,” Shelton said. “This is a guy that has been in the big leagues, has gone to the Minor Leagues and we've seen some definite improvements. And that was something that obviously intrigued us and led us to the fact of giving him an opportunity here in Pittsburgh.”

Before joining the Rays in 2020, Tsutsugo had a strong career while playing for Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan. Tsutsugo batted .285 with a .910 OPS, hit 205 homers and had 613 RBIs across 10 seasons and was a five-time NPB All-Star.

Tsutsugo said he didn’t make many adjustments to his swing while playing in Oklahoma City, but noted it felt more like it did before.

“[There was] nothing really major in terms of adjustments, but there are things that definitely felt like what it used to be back in the day,” Tsutsugo said.

To make room for Tsutsugo, first baseman John Nogowski was designated for assignment.