Keiichi Yabu expressed a desire to return to baseball on Thursday.
And it seems the Hanshin Tigers are interested.
Said club president Nobuo Minami, "As an active pitcher, this wouldn't be about pitching right away. ... Perhaps I should give him a call and ask him how much he's got left in the tank."
Sanspo is carrying a portion of an interview with Yabu. My translation is below:
What is your current situation?
I've been looking for a place to pitch, but it's been difficult. I worked out in Arizona during the off-season. The same place were Jeff Williams and Scott Greisinger went, a clinic in Scottsdale. So I basically spent my time working out before coming back to Japan. The Independent Leagues are just getting underway so I figured if something can go down by the trading deadline...
I have none, I can pitch. Although that might be kind of strange.
What about a return to Japan?
A lot players did return to the NPB this year. And the 11 years I spent with Hanshin do me mean a lot to me.
If you return to Japan, is Hanshin your first choice?
At this point, yes. Of course, that doesn't completely rule out other clubs. You never know what might happen.
Will you be setting any limits?
I don't want to set any limits. For example, if I can't find any interested teams, I could always find some place to pitch during the winter. I'm free to play however I choose, I mean, if I look around at any point during the year, I'm bound to find a place that's playing baseball.
What do you think of Hanshin right now?
They're strong, they've got some good offense.
How would you do with a group of players like that?
I'm sure I could win. Four days of rest and about 33 starts during the year, I think I could win 15. Winning about half the starts is pretty good. But that means I'd need 33 starts. But we usually get about 26-27 starts. Half of that is about 12 or 13 so there needs to be an increase in starts. I think more games would be good. That would also make the fans happier. I think there are actually too many off-days this month. In the US there's only about three days off a month so they usually play about 28 games.
Seems he also mentioned that he could probably top out at 144km/h (about 90mph) right now.
Said Yabu, "I think I can throw about 90mph (144km/h). 150km/h? With the radar gun they have at Koshien Stadium, I think I could pull it off."