It was thought that he had given up. ……
On December 16, Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano (32) went into contract negotiations and signed for a salary of 600 million yen, down 200 million yen. In the post-contract press conference, he said, “I couldn’t work this year, so I told them that I was sorry (to the team). It’s not surprising, given his record of 6 wins, 7 losses, and a 3.19 goals-against average in 19 games, the fewest games he’s pitched in his nine years as a professional. It was thought that he had given up on the idea of going to the majors, which he tried last off-season.
It’s not that I’ve given up, but ……. I wonder what’s going on. It’s been a year that I realized that it’s hard to do things with those thoughts flickering around in my head.
This was a year when I realized that it is hard to do things while keeping such things on my mind. However, those around him were very critical of his performance.
It seems that Sugano has been searching for a major league team to make an offer since the middle of the season. However, he was not satisfied with the results. One of the major factors that affected him was that he was removed from the roster four times this season due to discomfort in his right elbow. The medical checks in the majors are much stricter than those in Japan, and being struck out four times would give a very bad impression.
Even if he is in perfect physical condition, no team will offer him the multi-year contract that he wants. It’s hard to believe that a major league team would pay a lot of money to acquire an injury-prone player in his mid-30s.
The identity of a legend who pushes back
But on the other hand, some teams may be willing to sign him for a single year or for a relatively low price.
I’m not sure what to make of it. In the first half of the season, he was battered by injuries, but he came back in the second half, and since September, he has recorded six consecutive quality starts (pitching six innings or more and allowing three or fewer earned runs), making games as a starter. I haven’t reached my pitch count yet. Although he hasn’t reached the minimum number of innings pitched, his WHIP is 0.99, which means he doesn’t allow more than one batter per inning, which shows how good of a pitcher he is.
In the majors, starting pitchers don’t get much credit for their wins. What is important is how well they can make a game. I think Sugano has been able to recover from his negative performance in the first half by pitching in the second half of the season.
It is said that there are some legends who are pushing Sugano.
(Another reporter in charge of the game). He came to the U.S. on a minor league contract when he was nearly 40 years old. He worked hard among young players and achieved his dream of pitching in the majors with the Pirates.
At his contract renewal press conference, Kanno said, “I was able to make it to the bad side. I don’t think he was being too tough. I think he believes that he can grow by taking Mr. Kuwata’s guidance and correcting himself as he gets older.
Some of his predecessors at the Giants, like Koji Uehara, challenged the majors in their 34th year and became very successful with the Orioles and Red Sox. He doesn’t care about what others think of him. It seems that Kanno’s spirit of challenge has not yet waned.
Photo by： Ippei Hara