|Born: January 13, 1972|
|NPB: May 13, 1997, for the Kintetsu Buffaloes|
|MLB: April 6, 2004, for the San Diego Padres|
|NPB: 2003, for the Chunichi Dragons|
|MLB: July 1, 2007, for the Texas Rangers|
|Earned run average||2.39|
|Earned run average||2.44|
|World Baseball Classic|
|2006 San Diego||Team|
Akinori Otsuka (大塚 晶則 Ōtsuka Akinori) (born January 13, 1972) is a retired Japanese baseball pitcher who coaches for the Chunichi Dragons in Nippon Professional Baseball. He was formerly the set-up man for the San Diego Padres and the Texas Rangers. He was also the closer for Japan's 2006 World Baseball Classic winning team.
Otsuka threw a low-90's 4-seam fastball (tops out at about 94 mph) that is very straight, along with a hard, late-breaking slider. He employed an unorthodox pitching delivery wherein he lifted his lead leg up very slowly, tapped his glove, then fired to home plate, making his pitches look faster coming out of his hand and thus harder to pick up.
San Diego Padres
Otsuka came to the United States after several years of pitching in the Japanese League when his former team, the Chunichi Dragons, used the posting system to solicit bids from MLB clubs for the right to negotiate with him. The Padres offered the top bid, and signed him to a three-year contract on December 9, 2003.
Otsuka made his major league debut April 6, 2004 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, earning the lost after giving up a walk-off single to Robin Ventura. He struck out Paul Lo Duca for his first major league strikeout.
On January 6, 2006, Otsuka was traded to the Rangers, along with pitcher Adam Eaton and minor league catcher Billy Killian, in exchange for pitcher Chris Young, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, and outfielder Terrmel Sledge.
Otsuka took over the role as the closer for the Rangers during the 2006 season, replacing Francisco Cordero, and recorded 32 saves while posting a 2.11 ERA. However, on December 19, 2006, the Rangers announced that newly signed Éric Gagné would take over the closer role in 2007, with Otsuka moving back into a set-up role. On January 13, 2007, T. R. Sullivan reported that, in an interview in Japan, Otsuka said "If there is the team which needs me as a closer, I am going to think about (the trade)". Due to Gagné starting the season on the DL, Otsuka began the 2007 season as the closer. With the trade of Gagne to the Boston Red Sox, Otsuka assumed the closer's role again. However, Otsuka went on the DL after experiencing tightness in his throwing shoulder. His stand-in was C. J. Wilson. Otsuka was not offered a new contract by the Rangers and became a free agent on December 12, 2007.
Post MLB and Retirement
On January 10, 2008, Otsuka announced that he would undergo elbow surgery.
Otsuka returned to the Chunichi Dragons on the 3rd of October 2015 as one of the second team pitching coaches.
In 2016, with first team pitching coach Shinichi Kondoh on leave to have hernia surgery, Otsuka helped lead the first team pitchers in spring camp. He however returned to working with the second team following Kondoh's return. On 26 September, Otsuka was unveiled as the pitching coach for the U-23 Japanese national team for the 2016 WBSC U-23 World Cup.
San Diego Padres
Otsuka and his wife, Akemi, have one son, Toranosuke, and one daughter, Hikaru.
- firstname.lastname@example.org on January 15, 2007 3:33 PM – Reply. "Thus spoke Akinori « Postcards From Elysian Fields". Trsullivan.mlblogs.com. Retrieved 2013-08-29.
- Gen. "BC League Final Standings, Playoff Schedule, Updates; Gunma wins League Championship," Yakyubaka.com (September 16, 2014).
- "大塚晶文氏と投手コーチ合意のお知らせ (Announcement regarding Akinori Otsuka as new pitching coach)" (in Japanese). Chunichi Dragons. 3 October 2014. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- "【中日】ヘルニアで休養の近藤コーチ、３月中の現場復帰目指す (Coach Kondo rested with hernia, aims to be back in mid-march)" (in Japanese). Sports Hochi. 23 January 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-01-29. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- "侍ジャパンU-23代表の監督・コーチが決定 (Samurai Japan U-23 manager and coaches decided)" (in Japanese). Samurai Japan. 26 September 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- "Former Padres reliever Akinori Otsuka to serve as Triple-A bullpen coach". 21 February 2017. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
- "MLB Stats, Bio, Photos, Highlights-MLB". Mlb.mlb.com. 2013-05-24. Retrieved 2013-08-29.