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  • 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.

    2 Responses to “Nomo is almost back!”

    1. bullpenbrian said

      Simon,

      I came across your blog as both an MLB and NHL fan as well. Currently, I’m covering the Chicago Cubs and have already come to admire Kosuke Fukudome’s play in right field.

      Also, I always find myself pulling for the underdogs in both leagues (MLB/NHL). Of course, the Royals fit the bill every year in baseball. So, here’s to Nomo having a healthy season while actually helping Kansas City get over the hump!

      Enjoyed reading your blog and keep up the good work!

      –Bullpen Brian–

    2. simoncurrie said

      Thanks Brian!

      Things were going well for Nomo in his MLB comeback tonight. Shutting down the Yanks lineup for 2 innings of mop up, but then in his 3rd inning of work in the 9th he gave up back to back solo homers to A-Rod and Posada. Hopefully this was more of an aberration due to the opponent being the Yanks, but Hideo can’t leave the ball high in the zone, which is how the two homers went.

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