Nomo is almost back!
Posted by simon c on 2008 April 10日 Thursday
Kansas City Royals purchased the contract of 39 year old Hideo Nomo to whom all Japanese major leaguers can thank for opening the door to MLB. He’s tornadoless, but was successful at missing bats during spring training. He joins rookie countryman Yabuta in the bullpen and will be a long reliever.
“We really didn’t bring him in just for baby-sitting services for Yabu,” Hillman said. “It’s a nice advantage to have also because it provides some cultural comfort in a foreign situation for Yabu, but that wasn’t why Hideo was brought in.”
“The fork[ball] was of great interest, because when it’s on, it changes two or three hitting planes and it’s difficult for even the best hitters to follow that. And it’s still there. It’s there at less a velocity, but it’s still there nonetheless.”
Sure enough, Nomo started looking pretty good in camp. He worked hard. The Royals eliminated him from the rotation but put him in the bullpen picture.
One major change was that Nomo got rid of the distinctive twisting windup — the “Tornado” — that helped make him famous in the United States. Now he pitches strictly from the stretch.
“I tried pitching from the stretch before I went to Venezuela,” Nomo said. “The windup position puts more stress on the elbow. I found that out.”
In seven games this spring, he had a 4.80 ERA but was striking out people with regularity — 17 K’s in 15 innings with just three walks. Then, on March 25, he suffered a groin pull in Cactus League game and was put on the shelf. Just temporarily, as it turned out.
Here are couple of fun Nomo videos from 1990, his pro debut year with the (then) Kintetsu Buffaloes (those were some great uniforms).
This one is of his All Star Game matchup against now-Dragons manager and legendary slugger (only person to win the triple crown in both leagues) Hiromitsu Ochiai where Nomo went with all fastballs.
And this one is Nomo’s 1st pro win on his 3rd start. Amazingly he struck out 17, setting a Japanese rookie record (Ohba of the Hawks almost tied it last Saturday) and tying the then-Japanese record for strikeouts in a game. His forkball is absolutely sick as the bottom completely drops out, and his first 9 victims are all finished off with this pitch.