The Softbank Hawks announced today that Kazumi Saito will give up on his comeback and step down as rehab coach.
Some notes taken from various news sources:
- Saito turned down the organization's suggestion for a retirement game.
- He threw forty to fifty pitches in the bullpen on Sunday.
- He got back to the point where he was able to toss 100 pitches during bullpen sessions, but failed to make it up to the next step -- he could not throw more than two bullpens a week.
- The Hawks were reportedly prepared to allow him to continue with his rehab next season while working as a rehab coach. They did inform him that they had no plans to place him on the seventy-man roster this year.
- He decided during the off-season that if he did not make the seventy-man roster before the end of the July 31 deadline this year, he would call it quits.
"I am really grateful for the organization's support. There are no teams that would give a pitcher that has not thrown a pitch in six years an opportunity to try for a comeback. That is also the reason why I do not want to drag this out any longer," said Saito.
UPDATE 7/30 @ 5:15am -
Sponichi posted a portion of Saito's Q&A session with the media:
Your are taking the uniform off.
I do have some regrets.
How did you break the news to [Sadaharu] Oh and [Koji] Akiyama?
I spoke to them directly a few days back. I do not feel so much like I have come a long way in my attempt to make a comeback. I feel more strongly about being fortunate enough to have an opportunity to try. I told them I really appreciated [what they did for me].
Your last day of practice was on the 28th. You also tossed a bullpen session.
I felt some sadness, but I also felt happy about being a pitcher.
Any games that have left an impression?
The game I won [in 2000]. [Hiroki] Kokubo helped me with a home run. We both stood on the post-game interview box. Things went all according to the image I had in my head for that game and something inside woke up.
Your family, your wife, how important have they been?
I think there were times, without me knowing, when things got rough for her or she felt sad. It was my desire to get back on the mound for people, including my friends, [that kept me going].
Do you have any desire to return as a coach?
At this point, all I have is baseball. I really have no thoughts about what my futures holds right now, so I want to take some time to think about what it is I can do. I want to be the type of person that people always need.
Source: Sponichi 7/29/2013