Kazuki Yabuta made headlines on Thursday when Hiroshima Carp manager Shinji Sasaoka ended the first inning of an intrasquad game because he couldn’t bear to watch any more from the right-hander, Nikkan Sports reported.
Sasaoka sent him back out for the second inning and by the time Yabuta got a reprieve, he’d allowed nine runs in 2-1/3 innings of work… although I’m not sure if they gave him credit for three outs in the first or only counted that as a third of an inning.
“He looked like he was pitching halfheartedly,” the skipper said, which allowed me to learn the word “kotesaki” (小手先) which jisho.org defines as:
- 1. Noun: tip of the hand; (use of) one’s hands
- 2. Noun: cheap trick; superficial wit; superficial cleverness
- 3. Adjective: cheap; makeshift (e.g. measures); shortsighted; perfunctory; halfhearted.
“Half-hearted” is my guess, but if Rolling Stones Magazine were ranking starts this spring by Carp pitchers the way they ranked the 500 greatest rock albums, Yabuta’s might rank, like Cheap Trick’s best-selling album “Cheap Trick At Budokan,” as No. 426 on the list.
Sasaoka, said he was in mood to hear explanations from the 28-year-old, so Yabuta might have pause before he breaks into a cover of “I want you to want me.”
“In the final phase of camp, pitchers are each getting one live game apiece to compete for roles,” Sasaoka said. “I wonder what he was thinking. It just looked like halfhearted pitching to me. He wasn’t using his lower body, so his pitches had no late movement, no zip, and were easy to hit.”
“When you’re in the final competition for a spot, excuses won’t do. At this stage, there are no guarantees you will get another chance. If you flame out, there are no more chances.”