Throughout the history of baseball there have been many great hitters who could double as pitchers, and many great pitchers who weren’t pushovers with the stick in their hands either. The greatest example of this type of player will always be Babe Ruth, who won 89 games as a member of the Boston Red Sox before being sold to the Yankees where he became the Sultan of Swat and started smacking homers in between shotgunning beers and hot dogs (sometimes doing all three at the same time).
It’s not surprising considering that most young pitchers also play the field and bat through college, and don’t become one or the other until they turn pro. Of course, even though Ichiro Suzuki didn’t grow up in the United States, that didn’t keep him from knowing how to pitch as well as hit, and there’s a possibility Ichiro may be used as an emergency pitcher on Japan’s WBC team. Which is why he’s been working on his fastball.
From NPB TRACKER:
Japan WBC manager Tatsunori Hara has, perhaps unintentionally, prompted Ichiro to return to the mound by suggesting that using him in emergency situations is a possibility in this year’s tournament. In his workout on the 7th, he skipped batting practice and worked out as a pitcher. He threw 56 pitches off the mound at Skymark Stadium, throwing fastballs and forkballs. Word is that he hit 147kmph (92mph) with his fastest pitch. Ichiro said he wants to throw a little bit harder.
Hara isn’t used to managing games that go beyond 12 innings, which might explain the idea of using Ichiro as a pitcher. Still, Ichiro would probably be the most credible pitching candidate among the fielders in this year’s WBC. However far-fetched it might be, we might see Ichiro pitch in a competitive game this year.
Ichiro has pitched before coming to the United States, as this video from the 1996 NPB All-Star Game shows, so it’s not too far-fetched:
Though if you think Major League teams are already cautious about their players partaking in the World Baseball Classic, how do you think the Mariners will react to the idea of Ichiro pitching? Especially when they hear about Japan already having concerns about the baseballs that will be used in the WBC.
Via the UNIWATCH BLOG, apparently baseballs made for the WBC weigh in at a whopping 146 grams. The balls they use in Japan are only 145 grams, and now the Japanese are “thinking that this could wreak havoc on the Japanese players.“
Dear God! Not another gram! Surely this will cause all of the Japanese pitchers’ arms to tear out of their sockets and go flying across the field! The horror! Oh, the horror! Somebody save Ichiro from this horrible fate!