Senga said, “The fans chose the number ’34’ for me, and I will do my best to make it my own number. I will do my best to make it my number.
Kodai Senga (29), who exercised his overseas FA rights from SoftBank to join the Mets, said at his press conference held in New York on December 20 (Japan time). Senga’s number, 34, was chosen by a fan vote on social networking sites. It was also the number worn by Nolan Ryan, the most strikeouts in major league history with a total of 5,714, and a senior of the Mets. The fact that the great number was chosen shows the high expectations for Senga.
The Mets are serious about winning the World Series next season. They acquired Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Verlander from the Astros and Quintana, who has won 89 games in all, from the Cardinals. Senga, along with ace Scherzer and others, is expected to be a pillar of the starting lineup.
The requirements for a successful pitcher in the majors are having a high fastball (a high fastball) and a low split (a low pitch that falls low). Hideo Nomo, Masahiro Sasaki, Masahiro Tanaka, and others were successful because they had these two types of pitches. Senga also has a fastball with a maximum speed of 164 km/h and a falling pitch called the ‘ghost fork.
He can’t even run half of the three-team workout.
As long as he does not get injured, Senga is likely to be very successful in the Majors. Before joining the pros, however, he was an almost unknown pitcher. He joined SoftBank from Gamagori High School (Aichi Prefecture), which is not well known in the baseball world, as the fourth overall pick in the 2010 development draft.
He was unable to run even half of the time during practice sessions with the third team, partly due to a knee injury. His straight ball speed was in the 130 km/h range. Yuki Yanagita, a fielder who joined the team at the same time, was faster. He was so out of control that there were only a few balls that could be called strikes.
In an effort to increase his velocity, Senga worked one-on-one with then third-arm pitching coach Shinji Kurano on weight training. He also tried core training, and his weight increased by 8 kg in one year. His pitching speed increased by 10 km per hour.
However, he could not improve his poor control. What was the key to his awakening? In an interview with “FRIDAY” (July 5, 2001 issue), Senga said that his encounter with Kazuki Yoshimi, the ace of Chunichi and two-time Most Wins Winner, was significant.
[Yoshimi] always threw to the right half of my body when we played catch. He threw with an eye on the out course of right-handed batters. He said, ‘If you always throw toward this side (right), you will never miss a sweet course on an actual pitch. ‘ As I kept this in mind during our daily catch, my control gradually improved.
Yoshimi gave him a pair of spikes, saying, “I’m impressed with Senga’s ability to absorb things. Senga became a managerial staff member in 2012, and has grown into one of Japan’s leading pitchers, winning 87 games in his professional career and winning titles such as most wins, best defensive batting average, and most strikeouts. Senga, who fulfilled his dream of playing in the major leagues, still keeps the spikes that Yoshimi gave him in a safe place.
Photo by： AP/Afro