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Submariner Shunsuke Watanabe wants to pitch in the U.S.

Nov 8, 2013, 7:00 AM EDT

Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker tweeted an article a few hours ago reporting that Japanese submarine pitcher Shunsuke Watanabe intends to pitch in the United States. The article is in Japanese, but I take Patrick’s (and Google Translate’s) word for it.

You may remember Watanabe from the 2006 World Baseball Classic. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, the pitching motion certainly will:

That is some serious submarine action. Dan Quisenberry looks down from Pitching Valhalla watches that and says “damn.” Chad Bradford, when reached for comment, presumably said “dude, that’s nuts.”

But optics are one thing. Baseball significance is another. And as far as that goes, well, eh. I dunno. At this point in his career Watanabe does not exactly profile as someone who is gonna do well here. He’s 37 for one thing. For some reason he only pitched in six games last season for Chiba Lotte, which could suggest an injury. Either way, though, Newman says his velocity is only in the 70s. While he has deception on his side he doesn’t strike guys out at all. Really: over the past few seasons he’s struggled to reach three Ks per nine innings.

And if he doesn’t deceive hitters? According to his Wikipedia page, back in a 2004 exhibition David Ortiz hit a 525 foot home run off him, which was the longest ever homer hit in the Tokyo Dome.

Anyway: could be interesting. Could amount to absolutely nothing. But you’re gonna want to watch him pitch if he does make the jump.

  1. philliesblow - Nov 8, 2013 at 7:33 AM

    Shunsuke Wants-to-be in the majors. Reminds me of Oh-to-be McDowell.

  2. stex52 - Nov 8, 2013 at 8:31 AM

    The motion will certainly distract hitters at first. But at 70 MPH they can wait on the pitch, too. It had better do some serious dipping and diving or he is going to be pitching batting practice out there.

  3. yahmule - Nov 8, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    Is my perspective all screwed up or is his release point less than a foot off the ground?

    • stex52 - Nov 8, 2013 at 9:20 AM

      Hard to tell exactly, but judging from my own leg with a ruler, probably closer to 15-18 inches. It is going to be a different motion from the ball; it will be rising at first and then starting to fall as gravity takes its course.

      But at that speed I think they will adjust quickly. Fun to watch, though.

      • yahmule - Nov 8, 2013 at 12:06 PM

        Dammit! I hit the stupid report comment button instead of the reply button. So, you’re on notice now, Stex.

        I paused that video @ :16 and the ball is just ridiculously low to the ground.

      • stex52 - Nov 8, 2013 at 4:04 PM

        By golly, Yah, I think you are right. That point looks like a foot or less, but you have to slow it down to see.

        Oh, so you reported me, did you? Perhaps I should curse and make an ethnic reference. Get in touch with my inner Nazi.

        That might explain something, though. I got into a minor kerfuffle with a dimwit refugee from PFT and he accused me of reporting him. I would never have bothered. But maybe I accidentally hit the wrong button.

      • stex52 - Nov 8, 2013 at 4:13 PM

        By gosh, I think I may be getting replies blocked.

        Thanks, yah :-)

      • stex52 - Nov 8, 2013 at 4:13 PM

        Never mind. It showed up late. False alarm.

      • yahmule - Nov 8, 2013 at 5:29 PM

        I can destroy anyone’s reputation just by hanging around them.

  4. kicksave1980 - Nov 8, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    Can’t blame a player for wanting to play in the best league in the world. If he’s able, I hope he gets his wish. Velocity (or lack thereof) doesn’t really worry me, it’s the fact that he doesn’t miss many bats that’s concerning. Either way, I hope he gets a shot.

  5. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Nov 8, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    Headline writers want him in the pros just for the puns.

  6. jwbiii - Nov 8, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    Shunsuke Watanabe left tonight’s game against Rakuten after taking a batted ball of his right leg in the 5th inning. He was evaluated at a hospital in Chiba and diagnosed with a bruise. The Chiba Lotte Marines will likely remove Watanabe from the active roster in order to give him time to recover.

    Source: Sponichi 4/20/2013

    Shunsuke Watanabe is scheduled to start a game on the 15th against the Rakuten Eagles — he will take Yuji Nishino’s turn in the rotation.

    Watanabe took a batted ball of his right leg during his last Ichi-gun start on April 20 and was removed from the active roster the following day. The injury took longer than expected to heal and there were even times during the recovery process when the thirty-six-year-old veteran considered retirement.

    Source: Sports Hochi 8/13/2013, Sponichi 8/13/2013

  7. asimonetti88 - Nov 8, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    Wow, that is insane! Would like to see him at least get a chance.

  8. @Cereal_22 - Nov 8, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    That ball is a can of corn, he’d get CRUSHED in the bigs

  9. kylewo - Nov 8, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    Been watching Japanese baseball since 2007 almost as avidly as MLB. This guy would get totally annihilated here. He throws like 78mph most of the time.

  10. jimi - Nov 8, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    37 years old? Velocity in the 70’s? Struggling to reach 3 Ks per 9 innings? Wants to pitch in the bigs?
    Sounds like he’s ready. Houston could use him.

    • stex52 - Nov 8, 2013 at 11:27 AM

      Hey, the bullpen may be a mess, but I think he might even stand out there. They will be brining in new bodies. I predict he won’t be one of them.

      • doctornature - Nov 8, 2013 at 3:43 PM

        “Brining in new bodies?” LOL I have NEvr mdae a tupo, so I had to luagh!

        I like to brine my chicken before frying, but brining a whole body sounds like Lecter to me. Gave you a thumbs up just for the lame joke it enabled.

      • stex52 - Nov 8, 2013 at 4:14 PM

        Don’t be silly. Not a mistake. You always brine before you barbecue. :-)

  11. eightyraw - Nov 8, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    Scouting report (w/ gifs) courtesy of Clint Hulsey:

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