...Yusei Kikuchi tossed 56 pitches to Taketoshi Goto and Kenta Matsusaka during his first BP session on Tuesday. He gave up 6 could-be hits and had some trouble with his control, throwing 23 for balls. Kikuchi also threw his slider 6 times, only 1 of which went for a strike. According to Hisanobu Watanbe, Kikuchi appeared to hit 145km/h twice. The coaches will now sit down and figure out what to do with Kikuchi moving forward.
Kikuchi also sat down for an interview with Sponichi to talk about his pro start. I've picked out a few passages I thought might be of some interest:
Why did you feel the need to change the delivery you used (mechanics) during in high school?
When I was in high school, I pitched with the understanding that I had to throw pitches close to a certain location. But in the pros, you can't get away with throwing pitches close to a certain location -- you need to hit your spots accurately. I want a delivery (mechanics) that will give me better accuracy. And I thought that it would be better for me, even if it meant it might take a little more time. I think I would have some control over my pitches if I stay with my old delivery. But I'm thinking about pitching over a long period of time, so I thought instead of looking at the short term, I should think about a delivery I can use over a longer period of time, even if means it might take 1-2 years before I fully grasp it. In high school, they play consecutive games and there aren't very many replacements. They look for instant results so there isn't as much time to modify your delivery. In the pros, there are so many great pitchers that I think it might be ok to take some time working on a new delivery.
What are some of the things you are focusing on when you pitch now?
I want to make sure I put all my weight on my pivot foot. During the Summer Koshien, Tohoku series, I was able to throw 155km/h. At that time, I put all my weight on my pivot foot and just threw without thinking of anything else. And I hit 155km/h with good control. So I want to keep things simple and just make sure I focus on getting my weight on my pivot foot.
You tried raising your arms, pausing your right leg, throwing the ball once your leg hit the ground... Through trial and error, did you manage to learn something?
I tried pausing my leg while playing catch. But it didn't really work out well. It sometimes opened me up, got me to lean on the back of my foot... It basically threw my balance off. But from there, it made me to think about a lot of other things. It also reminded me about focusing on my center of gravity. And after trying a number of different things, it slowly came to. It's though trial and error that I found what I was looking for. I was pitching well at Kokutai but since I didn't do any throwing during the winter, I sort of forgot my delivery and was pitching without much direction. And I didn't know what to do to get that back. But everything started to fall into place when I starting thinking about my center of gravity and for the first time, things just started to click on the 20th.
...Taiyo Fujita posted a message on his blog on the 19th that he received word on February 2nd that his older sister, Yoko, passed away after battling cancer. She was only 37. The two were apparently fairly close. Fujita did not attend her sister's funeral services and instead focused on Spring camp (she once told him to keep playing baseball no matter what happens). Via Nikkan Sports.