I can’t win.
This is the first time I’ve been able to do so. I’m not sure what to make of it.
“I think I pitched well.
He told the press after the game, but there were some things that bothered him. It was the first time in eight years that Tanaka had thrown three wild pitches in one game. In his last start, against SoftBank on September 20, he gave up five runs on eight hits with two home runs, his worst outing, and left the mound in the fifth inning.
“I think it might be due to the injury I sustained to my right soleus muscle (the muscle at the back of the calf) during practice in March. I’ve injured my right leg several times since I’ve been in the majors. I don’t have enough step and my straight pitches are not running. Since I can’t control my straight pitches, hitters are targeting my breaking pitches. I think I’m throwing more wild pitches as I try to make my pitches more variable in order to beat them.
Bitter experience in the past
After a game against SoftBank in which Tanaka gave up five runs, Kazuhisa Ishii, the GM and manager of the team, could not hide his concern: “I don’t think it was like that. It’s no wonder he’s worried. It was Ishii’s decision to acquire Tanaka, who became a free agent from the Yankees last offseason, that made him an all-powerful manager.
“It is said that Rakuten has signed Tanaka to a two-year contract worth 900 million yen per year. It’s an unbelievably good deal, with an opt-out right to challenge the majors during the contract. There is a special circumstance behind Mr. Ishii’s decision to make such a big deal.
Mr. Ishii has a bitter experience in the past. GM That was it! In the off-season of 19 In the off-season of 2007, when he was the GM, he dismissed Yosuke Hiraishi, the manager who had brought the team up from the bottom to the third place. Mr. Hiraishi explained that the reason for his dismissal was that he could not fully improve the team’s awareness, including the many sign errors and base running. I guess Mr. Hiraishi was not satisfied. He moved to rival SoftBank as a coach.
GM Ishii chose Hajime Miki, his junior at Yakult and a good friend of his, to replace Hiraishi as manager. With the acquisition of Hideaki Wakui and Daichi Suzuki from Lotte, the team’s strength has been greatly improved. Last season, the team was expected to win the championship for the first time in seven seasons. However, …….
“In spite of the major reinforcements, Rakuten ended up in 4th place and B class. In the end, Miki stepped down, and the fans criticized GM Ishii for trying to keep him on. In the end, Mr. Miki resigned. It was hard to find a successor, so GM Ishii took over as manager. Hiroshi Mikitani, the owner of the company, must have felt that since he couldn’t get results as GM, he should take responsibility and try his hand as manager.
Mr. Ishii was forced to take charge of the team by himself, and his escape route was cut off. He thought that Tanaka, who had an overwhelming record in Japan, was absolutely necessary to win back the championship. Tanaka, with his high expectations, failed to win the tournament. I’m sure Mr. Ishii is praying for him, saying, ‘I spent a lot of money to get him, so please do something about it.
Rakuten is now in third place, far behind the championship contenders. Manager Ishii’s face is cloudy. Will Tanaka be able to bring the team back to the top with his old pitching?
Photo： Kyodo News