SENDAI — St. Thomas native Jabari Blash connected for his first home run of the season Sunday night with his new team, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, Japan’s version of Major League Baseball. Nippon (or Nihon) means Japan in Japanese.
The 29-year-old Blash, who spent parts of three seasons in the majors with the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Angels, hit a solo home run in the top of the ninth inning in the Golden Eagles’ 9-4 victory over the Chiba Lotte Marines in Chiba City, Japan.
Blash, who has been demoted to hitting seventh in the batting order, knocked a 1-0 pitch from Marines relief pitcher Takano Aoi over the left-center field wall.
It was the second homer of the inning for the Golden Eagles, who also got a leadoff solo shot from Zelous Wheeler.
Tohoku opened its season by winning two out of three games over the Marines, with Blash hitting just .200 (two hits in 10 at-bats).
Blash signed with Tohoku in December, when he realized his time in Major League Baseball in America was nearing an end.
But his one-year contract is worth a whopping 120 million Japanese yen ($1.06 million U.S. dollars).
The Golden Eagles play their home-opening series beginning today, facing the Hokkaido Nippon Ham at Ratuken Life Park in Sendai.
Japan is notorious for having a zero tolerance for drugs — and it’s penalties for abuse are some of the stiffest in the world.