Lotte’s Naoya Masuda, Who Achieved 200 Saves, Told This Magazine in His Rookie Year: “Baseball Is All about Mentality” | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Lotte’s Naoya Masuda, Who Achieved 200 Saves, Told This Magazine in His Rookie Year: “Baseball Is All about Mentality”

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Pitcher Naoya Masuda gave all of his contract money, about 60 million yen, to his mother.

On June 16, Lotte pitcher Naoya Masuda (33) earned his 18th save of the season, bringing his professional career total to 200 saves. He became the 10th professional baseball pitcher to achieve this feat. He became the 10th professional baseball player to achieve this feat,

I will continue to work even harder to live up to this achievement,” Masuda said happily.

Masuda said with joy.

Masuda was drafted by Lotte in the fourth round of the 2011 draft. He was even dubbed the “Three Crows of the Same Class,” along with Takahiro Fujioka (Toyo University), the “Golden Rookie,” and Yuhei Nakago (Kinki University), a left-handed sidethrower who represented Japan at the university level. Unlike the two baseball elites, however, Masuda has led a baseball life that could be called a “weed spirit.

Growing up in a single-mother, single-child household, Masuda was financially disadvantaged; his mother worked from morning till late at night, and his mother had to deliver his lunch to school by noon. However, he was never able to make it to the Koshien National Championships at Wakayama Commercial High School, and he considered giving up on college and becoming a firefighter or police officer. However, after much deliberation, he decided to continue playing baseball at university, and he successfully made it to the professional level.

Masuda’s greatest strength was his “mentality. His talent was quickly recognized by his pitching coach at the time, Sei Nishimoto (66).

He said, “Masuda has hair on his heart.

Nishimoto’s prediction was right on the mark when he said this at the spring training camp immediately after joining the team. In his rookie season, Masuda pitched in 72 games, and he had 41 holds, breaking the rookie record of 39 set by SoftBank’s Tadashi Settsu in 2009. His earned-run average was 1.67, and in 75 1/3 innings pitched, he gave up an astounding 19 walks. This magazine conducted an exclusive interview with Masuda toward the end of the season. Here are some of what he had to say.

Baseball is all about mentality.

What do you do to create your unique pitching form?

It is simply because it is easy to throw. If I throw with my feet up, I don’t feel like my weight is on my right hip, so I twist my right hip a little bit to put more weight on it. This makes it difficult to control the throw because I have to take an in-step approach, but I practiced and developed that form so that I could throw with a firm grip.

Starting with the “Petit Tornado Pitching,” you have given various names to your pitching style, such as the “Ora Ora Pitching,” the “Uppercut Pitching,” and the “Fight Pitching.

I don’t really have a pitching style because I throw with a normal form. I twist my body, but I throw the ball faster from above than from the side, so I just prefer it that way.

Before you joined the team, you had the reputation of having a strong mentality, but do you think you are strong yourself?

I think you are strong yourself. I’m the type of person who doesn’t let things drag on, or rather, forgets about them the next day. I don’t get nervous because I don’t think about anything too much. I don’t really know why. I guess I’m just rough.

-In June, however, there were a few games in which he was hit by a pitch, and there were times when he shed tears of frustration on the bench.

I was at the peak of my fatigue at that time. Even when I came on the mound, I kept getting hit by pitches, and I thought about unnecessary things. I think it was a game against Rakuten in mid-July. I didn’t even get one out, and I was replaced after two runs had scored. Coach Nishimoto told me, “You have an aura of being hit! I was so nervous or maybe I was just short of being a little bit of a pussy. I guess I was too timid, or maybe I was just too small.

The reason for his replacement was that he was the only rookie player in the Pacific League to be selected for the All-Star team.

I was inspired by Mr. Hirano (Yoshihisa) of the Orix. He taught me how to throw a fork and many other things, but when I told him that I had not been doing well lately, he laughed at me and said, ‘You don’t have to worry about every single result. When I told him about my recent slump, he laughed at me and said, “It’s no use worrying about every single result. If you keep thinking about that, you won’t be able to do it. These words lifted a weight off my shoulders.

Coach Nishimoto told me to refresh myself, but I didn’t have time to refresh myself, and it’s not something you can change by being told by others. You have to break through on your own. That is why I am glad I had the All-Star season. (I don’t talk to the director very often, but when I was in bad shape, he used to call me up and tell me, ‘Don’t worry about it,’ but even if the director told me that, I would still worry about it, and I couldn’t easily switch over even if he said so. But the words of the higher-ups were heavy, so I said, ‘This is not the time to be doing this. Baseball is not about how well you are doing, it’s all about mentality.”

Masuda’s goal at the time was to surpass the 200 holds record set by former Chunichi coach Takuya Asao, whom he professed to respect. With Masuda’s mentality, it is quite possible that he will surpass Asao and reach 250 saves, which would earn him a spot in the Famous Baseball Hall of Fame.

He never drinks alcohol. He is not only mentally but also physically strong.
  • PHOTO Takayuki Abe

    Takayuki Abe is a graduate of the Kuwasawa Design School of Photography. After working at Gaien Studio, studied under Kazuaki Kiriya.

    Currently, he photographs craftsmen throughout Japan in search of traditional Japanese crafts. He is also the leader of "Bokutachi no Shashinkan" (Our Photo Studio). Specializes in portraits.

    He is also an expert in portraits.

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