Hanshin’s First-Round Pick Shimomura Undergoes Tommy John Surgery: Manager Okada Expresses Frustration | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Hanshin’s First-Round Pick Shimomura Undergoes Tommy John Surgery: Manager Okada Expresses Frustration

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Shimomura raises his arm high in the air at his entrance press conference. At the time, no one expected him to undergo major surgery.

Hanshin’s first-round draft pick, pitcher Kaito Shimomura (22), underwent ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery, commonly known as Tommy John surgery, and was discharged from the hospital on April 11, as announced by the team. It came as a shock to the Tigers fans. Shimomura commented through the team’s public relations,

“I received advice from many stakeholders who support me and made the decision to undergo surgery. I feel frustrated not being able to do anything since joining the team, but I want to express my gratitude to the team for respecting my decision. I will work sincerely on my rehabilitation to return as soon as possible and contribute to the team’s strength.”

A sports newspaper reporter covering the Hanshin Tigers reveals,

“Shimomura was selected for the University Japan team last year and was throwing well, but after joining the team, he suddenly stopped. Since there hasn’t been any information coming out, fans have been wondering, ‘What is our first-round draft pick doing?'”

With the rookie, expected to be a key player, undergoing surgery without throwing a single pitch, it’s understandable that the competitive Manager Akihiro Okada (66) wouldn’t stay silent.

“The team won the Japan Series for the first time in 38 years last year. The outstanding performance of pitchers like Odeki Murakami (25), who won both the league MVP and Rookie of the Year, shined, but there were signs of fatigue in pitchers like Akihiro Aoyagi (30) and Masashi Ito (27). Anticipating this, Manager Okada decided to prioritize selecting ready-to-play pitchers in last fall’s draft.

However, Shimomura couldn’t throw with full force since the joint rookie training in January, and he had to adjust in the minor league during spring camp. It was revealed that he couldn’t throw properly even in the bullpen. Although he was given a grace period to return as a player, Okada’s complaints against the front office and scouts for their overly optimistic outlook seem endless.” (Same source)

Amidst the team’s slump, Manager Okada’s frustration is growing, evident in his refusal of bullpen reporters’ interviews.

“Well, Mr. Okada’s mood is understandably sour. No matter how hard he works, if the people supporting him fail, it’s frustrating. It’s natural to say ‘It’s unbearable!’ How much did the responsible scout communicate the possibility of undergoing Tommy John surgery beforehand? If the report was ambiguous, it could even lead to a responsibility issue.” (Team alumnus)


By the way, Shimomura was handled by Masaru Yoshino (46), a reliever lefty who played during Okada’s first tenure in 2005. He should be familiar with the manager’s character—what do you think?

  • PHOTO Kyodo News

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