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Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters Wrap Up Spring Training In Arizona

The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters at bat.
(Photo by Casey Kuhn - KJZZ)
The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters at bat.

A Japanese baseball team will wrap up its spring training camp in Peoria on Monday.

The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters partnered with the San Diego Padres to practice in Arizona this month, the first time since 1998 a Japanese team had trained in the United States.

Keith Werman with the Fighters said the pairing not only gives the Fighters access to top-notch facilities, it helps expand the Padres brand.

“Having those guys around one to build the relationship with our coaches but it also has the ability to grow the Padre name out in Japan, I think that’s very important and valuable to the club,” Werman said.

Werman said ace Fighters pitcher Shohei Otani drew 50 scouts from 15 different MLB teams when he pitched Wednesday.

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Casey Kuhn reports from KJZZ’s West Valley Bureau. She comes to Phoenix from the Midwest, where she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in journalism.Kuhn got her start in radio reporting in college at the community public radio station, WFHB. She volunteered there as a reporter and worked her way up to host the half-hour, daily news show. After graduating, she became a multimedia reporter at Bloomington's NPR/PBS station WFIU/WTIU, where she reported for and produced a weekly statewide news television show.Since moving to the Southwest, she’s discovered a passion for reporting on rural issues, agriculture and the diverse people who make up her community.Kuhn was born and raised in Cincinnati, where her parents instilled in her a love of baseball, dogs and good German beer. You’ll most likely find her around the Valley with a glass of prosecco in one hand and a graphic novel in the other.She finds the most compelling stories come from KJZZ’s listeners.