Baseball: Minor league journeyman Katoh makes Jays' Opening Day roster

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Utility infielder Gosuke Katoh has reportedly made the Toronto Blue Jays' Opening Day roster after nine seasons in the minors, filling the team's final open 40-man roster spot.

Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that Katoh, who was in camp as a non-roster invitee, will earn a bench spot in Friday's home opener against the Texas Rangers after going 8-for-24 with a home run, two doubles and three RBIs in 14 spring games.

"I want to show my determination to win through my plays," Katoh said.

"All I do is play baseball. I'm not going to think about anything else. I used to spend too much time in my head but I'm not going there anymore," he said.

The 27-year-old versatile defender has appeared at every infield position this spring, where he had a strong showing both at the plate and in the field. He bats left-handed and throws right-handed.

Katoh was born in California to Japanese parents, and spent his childhood in Kanagawa Prefecture, on the doorstep of Tokyo. The speedy second baseman was drafted by the New York Yankees in the second round in the 2013 Major League Baseball draft.

After a 99-day lockout, MLB season returns for Opening Day on Thursday, when 18 of 30 teams are playing. The remaining 12 clubs will play their first games on Friday.

Katoh, who signed a minor-league deal with Toronto in January, started training at the team's spring home in Florida in mid-February.

"It was an environment where I was able to train with major league coaches. I had them all to myself," he said.

The Blue Jays acquired 2021 All-Star Yusei Kikuchi for a good price in free agency, and the Japanese lefty is expected to slot in as the fifth starter in the Jays rotation.

The team has only won the American League East six times in franchise history and has not earned the division title since 2015.

But coming off a rebuild, Toronto enters the 2022 season as one of the favorites to win the AL East, after finishing with a record of 91-71 in 2021 and just one game shy of making the postseason.

Katoh hit .306 in 114 games for Triple-A El Paso in the San Diego Padres' system last year. He is slated to make his major league debut at some point during the 2022 campaign.

According to local media reports, Katoh was emotional when Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo approached him at his locker Monday afternoon and offered his congratulations on making the big-league team.