The SoftBank Hawks are poised to acquire 30-year-old lefty Matt Moore, the Nikkan Sports reported Friday citing a source. Moore posted 10-plus wins in three different seasons. He had surgery on his pitching elbow in 2018 but came back to pitch two games this past season with the Detroit Tiger when he showed no noticeable drop in velocity. Moore spent most of his career with the Tampa Bay Rays before playing for the San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers and Tigers.
The Hawks this week also welcomed former catcher Kenji Jojima, who will take up a role in the front office. Jojima, who I have ranked as the fifth most valuable catcher in NPB history and the 50th best player overall, left the Hawks after the 2005 season for the majors. He returned to Japan with the Central League’s Hanshin Tigers and played three more years until 2012.
Tigers announce Sands signing
The Hanshin Tigers on Friday introduced Jerry Sands, the 32-year-old outfielder who led the KBO in RBIs this year. His one-year deal is reportedly worth $1.1 million. In comments released by the Tigers (in Japanese only) Sands said his former minor league teammate, Pierce Johnson, who starred in relief this year for the Tigers, spoke highly of the organization.
Dickson, Albers and Moya back with Orix for 2020
The Pacific League’s Orix Buffaloes announced they had concluded 2020 contracts with three foreign holdovers from 2019, pitchers Brandon Dickson and Andrew Albers, and outfielder-first baseman Steven Moya. Dickson , who joined Orix in 2013, moved last season from the starting rotation to the bullpen, where he proved effective as the closer for the Buffaloes, and during the Premier 12 for the United States. Moya arrived last season from the CL’s Chunichi Dragons.
OK, so it’s hardly the heart of darkness, but back in the 1970s, pitchers in preseason exhibitions occasionally threw complete games as they prepared for the Nippon Professional Baseball season.
When you look at old box scores, the numbers of pitches thrown by starters can be an eye-opener, but the sight of seeing a guy throw 90 pitches in an exhibition game on March 1, 1975, catches one’s attention. The pitcher in question, journeyman right-hander Toru Hamaura, threw 91 pitches over five innings that day for the Fukuoka-based Taiheiyo Club Lions.
This was when teams looked at innings, rather than pitch totals — although pitch counts were dutifully reported in Japan’s sports newspapers. What you notice is that guys aren’t throwing more than six innings the first two weeks.
So while innings were curtailed, Hanshin Tigers veteran Tomohiro Tanimura threw 111 pitches over five innings on March 11. Shigeo Nagashima, then a rookie skipper with the Yomiuri Giants, may have just been showing off on the same date in Florida, when Osamu Shimano was allowed to throw a 100-pitch complete game in the Grapefruit League.
By the third week of March, seven-inning starts and 100-pitch outings became more and more common. One of the features of the schedule then was a large number of double headers, and this even penetrated the preseason, with teams frequently playing two. In a March 23 doubleheader against the Yakult Swallows, Satoshi Niimi threw 124-pitch complete game in the opener, while Fighters ace Naoki Takahashi wrapped up the nightcap with an efficient 113 pitches. The apex or nadir — depending on one’s view point — came on March 27, when Lotte Orions ace Fumio Narita threw 144 pitches over nine innings.