Yu Darvish pitched in his first practice game yesterday and hit 153km/h on the radar gun. In fact, of the 33 pitches he tossed over 2 innings, 7 hit 150km/h+. (His career best is 154km/h.)
Darvish dialing it up...
Darvish also apparently met up with Kyuji Fujikawa before the start of the game to exchange their thoughts on the new 15-second rule.
And a brief Q&A with Darvish that was held after the game:
On your first start
I think I made some nice pitches when there weren't any runners on base. Some of my off-speed pitchers were going right down the middle of the plate, but when I slowed things down, I was able to make my pitches. I think I'm moving along on the right track.
On throwing 150km/h+
I think I hit 150km/h+ on pitches where I had a good grip on the ball.
On what's next
I haven't been working on my pick-off move, so that's basically what I have left to practice. I have one more bullpen session here and I'd like to try and work on that then.
On the 23,000 fans in the stands
It's different when there are fans watching. Even practice games like this can be made to feel like regular season games.
On Fujikawa being called on the 15-second rule
I talked to him before the game and we came to the conclusion that if you shake off a sign twice, you're out. But I kept things moving. I think I was pretty fast out there.
On fans shouting out "Hey, it's 15-seconds"
I heard them. Even hecklers can be fun sometimes.
...Sponichi is reporting that the executive committee didn't notify players and coaches of the 15-second rule right away. Lotte team president Ryuzo Setoyama said, "During the meetings, the organization basically said that they were going with a 15-second rule. They also said that umps would explain the rule to coaches and players during training camp and that we should leave it up to them. We also thought that might be best." Other people involved in the decision have added, "This isn't a revision to a rule but rather a strengthening of one."
Chunichi Dragons manager Hiromitsu Ochiai wondered out loud if pitchers and catchers would be able to decide on signs before the catcher throws the ball back to the pitcher.