Shohei Otani to have surgery on right ankle on Thursday

Shohei Otani follows through on his swing while representing Japan in international play. (Masterpress/Getty)

TOKYO — Japanese baseball player Shohei Otani will have right ankle surgery on Thursday.

The reigning Pacific League MVP, in his fifth season with the Nippon Ham Fighters, is prized as both a pitcher and hitter. He is likely to leave Japan and sign with a Major League Baseball team through the posting system in the off-season.

The 23-year-old Otani initially injured his ankle while running the bases during the Japan Series last October, and ended up having to withdraw from the World Baseball Classic in March.

Otani says "I want to be in perfect condition for the new season."

Otani played in only 65 games this season, batting .332 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs. As a pitcher, he was 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA and 29 strikeouts.

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