TOKYO (AP) — Lars Nootbaar’s pepper-grinder gesture is catching on all across Japan, not just at the Tokyo Dome.
You see people doing it on the trains, across the counter ordering a coffee and of course among the 40,000 fans who have packed the Tokyo Dome to watch Japan play in the World Baseball Classic.
“The fans have leaned it to that. It’s been pretty cool,” Nootbaar said Thursday. “I heard the pepper grinders around the country, their sales have gone up quite a bit this past week.”
Nootbaar should ask for a commission, or an endorsement. Behind Shohei Ohtani, he’s become Japan’s No. 2 attraction.
“It’s been great,” said the St. Louis Cardinals outfielder, who grew up in California. “The fans have embraced me. The team has embraced me, which has been so great for me to be able to be myself and just go about my day normally with these guys. They’ve been fantastic. I didn’t really expect it to turn out this way.”
Nootbaar said he’s ready to come back and play again, whenever the next World Baseball Classic is played.
“I’m hopeful that some time I can come back and play in front of these fans, hopefully in three years or whatever it is,” Nootbar said. “It’s been a great experience.”
Follow Japan-based AP sports writer Stephen Wade on Twitter at http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP
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