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Japan’s Senga says it’s ‘surreal’ to join MLB Mets rotation

NEW YORK (AFP) – Japanese pitcher Kodai Senga (AP, pic below) joined the New York Mets on Monday, taking his place alongside idols Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander in the Major League Baseball club’s starting roster.

“It almost feels surreal,” Senga said through a translator at a news conference, showing off his new uniform after completing a five-year deal reportedly worth USD75 million.

“I’m very happy and excited to be in the Big Apple,” Senga said in English. “Let’s go Mets.”

The 29-year-old right-hander won five Japan Series titles with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and helped Japan win gold at last year’s Tokyo Olympics.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Kodai,” Mets general manager Billy Eppler said. “We’ve scouted him from afar for a number of years and we knew when he hit free agency we would want to make this day a reality.” Senga said he was excited to pitch for Mets fans, who last celebrated a World Series crown in 1986. “I hope to live up to the highest of their expectations,” Senga said.

Senga had a 1.89 earned-run average with 159 strikeouts and 50 walks over 148 innings this year in Japan.