Diamondbacks left-hander Yuhei Nakaushiro gave up a pair of line drives, threw as many balls as strikes and admitted later he was battling his nerves, but his spring-training debut went in the books as a perfect eighth inning on Saturday afternoon.
For American fans, Nakaushiro is an unknown, a 27-year-old reliever who popped up in the Diamondbacks farm system last year and logged a dominant 29 1/3 innings. But, in his native Japan, he is both a flop and a last hope at keeping an obscure-yet-sort-of-interesting streak alive.
Starting with Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Hideo Nomo in 1995, every major league season – 22 years in a row – has featured at least one Japanese player making made his major league debut.
After an offseason in which no major Japanese players migrated to the majors, Nakaushiro represents the best chance – perhaps the only realistic chance – at keeping that streak alive this year.