Tomase: Casas' up-close assessment of Yoshida will excite Red Sox fans originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
They batted third for their respective countries in the gold medal game of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, so Team USA's Triston Casas is the rare Red Sox player with firsthand experience of what it's like to face new teammate Masataka Yoshida of Japan.
And suffice to say, he's impressed.
"I thought he was the most elite hitter in that lineup," Casas said. "I know (Seiya) Suzuki was in that lineup as well from the Cubs, but when (Yoshida) stepped up to the plate, his stature isn't imposing but his bat-to-ball skills are elite. His left-handed swing is really nice and it's going to play great in our stadium."
Tomase: Can Yoshida hit for power in Boston? History is against him
Yoshida went 2 for 4 vs. the U.S. to help lead Japan to gold in a 2-0 victory. He singled twice, the second leading to a run on an errant throw, and also lined into a wicked double play to Casas on a ball ticketed for the right field corner.
Casas ended up leading the tournament with three home runs, while Yoshida ranked among the tourney leaders with a .350 average, tied for 10th with former Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway of Israel.
The Red Sox hope the 5-foot-8 outfielder turns into not just a controller of the strike zone and someone who can reach base, but a slugger as well.
Hitting coach Peter Fatse looks forward to getting to know Yoshida better.
"We were up there when he signed, so it was great to see him in person," he said. "I had been doing so much research on him, it was nice to actually meet him. We've had communication with Zooms. We'll continue to do that as well. Really it's trying to get to know the people that are closest to him right now and learn as much about him as we can. He's going to arrive in the early part of the month here coming up, so I'll be there early to help with his transition process and more just to be around to watch and observe and listen and try to get to know the person more so than the player."
The Red Sox signed the 29-year-old to a $90 million deal, reportedly far more than other teams were offering, because they believe he has elite offensive potential.
Based on what he saw up close and personally in Yokohama, Casas is inclined to agree.