Japanese star Shohei Otani to miss 6 weeks with thigh injury

TOKYO -- Japanese baseball player Shohei Otani will be sidelined for about six weeks because of a left-thigh muscle strain, his team said on Sunday.

Otani, who is expected to move to Major League Baseball in 2018, hurt his left leg trying to beat out an infield single in the Nippon Ham Fighters' loss to the Orix BlueWave on Saturday.

The injury will add further debate to Otani's insistence on batting as well as pitching.

The 22-year-old right-hander didn't play for Japan in last month's World Baseball Classic because of an ankle injury he suffered in last year's Japan Series and aggravated while running the bases in the Premier12 tournament in November.

Otani has not pitched this season. Through eight games as the team's designated hitter, Otani has batted .470 with two homers.

He was selected as last year's MVP in the Pacific League and has drawn interest from numerous MLB clubs.