On the first day of Spring Training in Japan, several Japanese relief pitchers defied the laws of nature as they threw ridiculously long bullpen sessions.
Relief pitcher Yuma Ohshita of the Yakult Swallows threw a bullpen session of 106 pitches. He almost repeated that feat on the second day as he threw a hundred pitches.
Even before the start of Spring Training, Hiroshima Toyo Carp’s Makoto Aduwa threw a 102-pitch bullpen session.
But the one who threw the most pitches by far was Shun Yamaguchi of the Yomiuri Giants, who threw a 200-pitch bullpen session.
To complete this field, Yamaguchi’s teammate, Ryoma Nogami, threw a bullpen session of 176 pitches.
As jballen.com reported about former Japanese baseball greats three former Chunichi Dragons pitchers, two Hall of Famers Hiroshi Gondo and Shigeru Sugishita and Masahiro Yamamoto have given their opinion on reducing the pitch count for high school pitchers.
One of Japan’s prefectures, Niigata Prefecture, has announced a plan to restrict the use of pitchers during its spring tournament this year. The new rules will prohibit a pitcher to start a new inning after he had thrown 100 pitches in a game already. But it still will be possible for pitchers to pitch two days in a row.
Even though the usage of a pitcher on two consecutive days is still possible, the new policy by the Niigata Prefecture is a step in the right direction. It happens quite often that a Japanese pitcher implodes at an early stage in his professional career as a result of being overused during his high school/university years.
The aforementioned Japanese baseball greats have vented their opinion against reducing the pitch count. Especially, newly NPB HOF-er Hiroshi Gondo, who made the following remarks: “I am absolutely opposed to that (sort of restriction). Most of those kids aren’t going to be professionals, and this will be the end of their baseball careers. You don’t want to hold them back. Besides, if you can’t pitch that much in high school without ruining your arm, there’s no way you can make it in the pros anyway.” “You don’t want to put obstacles in the way of people playing to win,” Gondo said. “People are going to get hurt, and you can’t alter that fact.”
Also, the Japan High School Baseball Federation wasn’t happy with the decision by the Niigata Prefecture. The federation lashed out and called the new system arbitrary and unenforceable.
Anyhow, with the long bullpen sessions of the aforementioned NBP pitchers, it isn’t likely that the general point of view on the way how pitchers are (over)used in Japan, will change any time soon.