Thirteen times in 12 games as a Cub, the right-handed slugger with the uncommon eye at the plate has walked — and then stepped back from the plate and taken the long way to first, circling behind the catcher and umpire before relocating the base line.
“It’s kind of disrespectful to walk in front of someone,” the former Japanese batting champ said through his team interpreter, Toy Matsushita. “Especially if it’s someone older than you. It’s Japanese culture. It’s not a good thing to do.”
Not every player from Japan has done that in the majors; in fact, we can’t think of any from recent memory (Kosuke Fukudome, for instance, is left-handed, so it doesn’t apply; same with Yankee slugger Hideki Matsui before him).
And not every player in NPB in Japan does it, say veteran Japanese baseball writers.
“Depends on the person,” Suzuki said, “but that’s what I was taught as a kid, to be respectful.”
— Barry Bradford (@BarryMotivates) April 22, 2022