Originally diagnosed with a sprained ankle suffered in his April 6 season debut, SoftBank Hawks ace Kodai Senga is now expected to miss two to three months due to ligament damage in his left ankle.
But the injury could cost him much more than that. If he does not make it back in three months it could delay his qualification to file for free agency for a full year.
Senga, who tied for the 2020 Pacific League lead in wins and strikeouts, while leading the league in ERA, has long expressed a desire to move to the majors and has petitioned the Hawks to let him move via the posting system, something the team has repeatedly refused to consider.
That makes this wonderful right-hander’s tenure in Fukuoka tied to the nine years of service time he needs to file for international free agency.
Senga, who was first activated on April 30, 2012, has amassed by my count seven years and 20 days. He needs another 125 days this season to make this year count and keep him on track for international free agency after the 2022 season.
Senga in the service
145 – full
72 + 60 for injury
28 + 117 remaining
145 – full
145 – full
145 – full
145 – full
145 – full
Players injured on the field, can get up to 60 days of injury service time a year, and he’ll need that. This is a difficult year because I haven’t confirmed how the Olympic break — NPB will shut down between the middle of July and the middle of August — will affect service time.
It appears to be about 25 days, meaning that if he comes back on July 20, he’ll have 60 days of injury time, 78 days left in the regular season and more if the Hawks make the Climax Series, plus April 6 and 19 days he’s carried over since the end of the 2015 season.
That’s 158, and plenty to clear the 145 he needs to count this year. But if the injury sidelines him for four months, or he needs surgery, he’s screwed. He’s already missed more than a year for an injury suffered in June 2014, and got 60 days that year, but he lost most of 2015.
If this story sounds familiar, it should. As I wrote in March, Yuki Yanagita was in a similar bind in 2019. He missed half the season, and had the Hawks activated him from his rehab a few days earlier, he would have qualified for free agency five months ago, but they didn’t. Instead, they offered him a seven-year anchor of a contract and he’ll never leave.
So if Senga is still out of action or pitching on the farm in rehab games in August, expect the Hawks to err on the side of caution and not rush his return.
SoftBank Hawks ace Kodai Senga will likely be out two to three months with ligament damage in his left ankle, suffered when he caught a line drive back to the box in his April 6 season debut.
Kuri, Kikuchi, Carp stop Giants
Carp 4, Giants 2
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Ryosuke Kikuchi singled three times, stole a base and scored three times, and Allen Kuri (3-0) allowed two runs, one earned over seven innings to earn the win for Hiroshima. Yomiuri starter Shosei Togo (1-1) allowed four runs in 3-2/3 innings.
Kuri struck out five, walked two and allowed three hits, although he did participate in the “let’s throw the ball into the outfield game” the Carp infield participated in that cost them a first-inning run.
Haruki Omichi worked a 1-2-3 eighth against the heart of the Giants order, and fellow rookie Ryoji Kuribayashi worked around a one-out walk to record his fifth save.
With the scored tied 2-2 in the fourth, Carp rookie Ryutaro Hatsuki reached for the second time, on a wild pitch uncaught third strike, was sacrificed to second by Kuri and scored on Kikuchi’s single. Kikuchi stole second and scored an insurance run on a Tomohiro Abe single.
The Giants have scored three runs or fewer for 12 straight games, matching a franchise record set in 1993.
Tigers 4, BayStars 0
At Yokohama Stadium, side-armer Koyo Aoyagi (2-0) allowed three singles and two walks over seven innings, and Jerry Sands iced the game with his fifth home run, a two-run shot in the ninth. Central-League-leading Hanshin took the lead off Taiga Kamichatani (0-1) in the fourth on a Kentaro Itohara double and a one-out Yusuke Oyama single.
Jefry Marte went 0-for-3, but walked in the ninth to put a runner on ahead of Sands’ homer. Robert Suarez worked a 1-2-3 ninth for the Tigers.
Swallows 2, Dragons 2
At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, Chunichi Dragons starter Yuya Yanagi surrendered a one-out two-run fourth-inning homer to Munetaka Murakami but stranded two runners that ended the Yakult Swallows’ scoring chances. The hosts scored an unearned run in the first against Yasuhiro Ogawa but got even in the sixth when Nobumasa Fukuda led off with a double and scored on Toshiki Abe’s single.
Hawks 8, Eagles 8
At Sendai’s Rakuten Semei Park, the SoftBank Hawks came back to tie it in the seventh on an Akira Nakamura RBI single after the defending Pacific League champs blew a seven-run lead and had to settle with their second straight tie against the Rakuten Eagles, finishing 8-8 after they played to a 1-1 draw in Friday’s series opener.
The Eagles chased submarine right-hander Rei Takahashi after 4-1/3 innings. He’d allowed solo homers in the third and fourth to make it 7-2 before the hosts mashed out back-to-back three run innings.
Eagles closer Yuki Matsui stranded a pair in the top of the ninth to ensure Rakuten couldn’t lose –due to this year’s lack of extra innings. In the bottom of the ninth, Livan Moinelo showed that he might be slowing down.
After striking out three batters on 12 pitches in Wednesday’s season debut, the Cuban lefty only struck out two in a 12-pitch perfect inning on Thursday, and needed 18 pitches and only struck out one batter in his perfect inning against the Eagles. Man’s losing it.
Marines 6, Lions 2
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Leonys Martin hit a pair of solo homers and singled for the Lotte Marines. He now leads both leagues in home runs with seven. Martin opened the scoring in the first against Shota Hamaya (1-2) who left the bases loaded but surrendered a Martin’s leadoff homer in Lotte’s three-run third.
Manabu Mima (1-2) allowed two runs over seven innings to get the win.
The Lions’ Aito Takeda, a sixth-year pro who has had only glimpses of action on the first team, hit his third career homer one day after hitting his first two.
Fighters 5, Buffaloes 2
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, a day after winning their second game of the season, the Nippon Ham Fighters have their first win streak of the year after Yuki James Nomura’s ninth-inning RBI double broke a 2-2 tie.
Masataka Yoshida’s first-inning RBI double pushed across Yuma Mune for the first run. Mune doubled and scored the tying run in the sixth on a Yoshida single. Fighters starter Naoyuki Uwasawa and Buffaloes lefty Sachiya Yamasaki each worked six innings.
Orix’s Atsushi Nomi and Tyler Higgins kept the game tied for two innings before rookie Taisei Urushihara (0-1) let the game get away in the ninth. Fighters lefty Naoki Miyanishi (1-1) got the win, and Toshihiro Sugiura got his second save.
At 40 years, 10 months of age, Nomi became the oldest Orix pitcher to earn a hold. The former Tigers’ ace is also the oldest Hanshin pitcher to earn a hold.
BayStars’ Soto, Austin to join workouts
Two-time Central League home run champ Neftali Soto and slugging second-year import Tyler Austin will work out with the DeNA BayStars’ first team on Sunday, manager Daisuke Miura said Saturday according to Sponichi Annex.
Miura, the report said, spoke with the two at the club’s minor league facility in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, and that they reported no issues and were keen to rejoin the club.
“We’ll see how they look,” Miura said. “They were practicing before they arrived in Japan, but haven’t played in games, so we’ll see what’s what.”
Miura said pitcher Michael Peoples would join the team after pitching some EL games for the farm team.
The BayStars were unable to get any of their returning players into Japan before the start of the season. Most new imported players, unless they arrived before a state of emergency was declared in January like Hiroshima’s Keven Cron, have only recently been able to enter Japan.
Eagles vs Hawks: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT