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Robert Whiting on Hideki Irabu: Pitching From Behind

by on Aug.03, 2011 @ 8:33 am, under NPB
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The Slate has posted an article on Hideki Irabu written by Robert Whiting.  Worth a read if you're either a Whiting fan or an Irabu fan.

A snip:

Irabu could be a likable young man when he was in a good mood. Cap pushed back, chewing bubble gum, and talking about his forkball, he seemed quite personable. He could also be very generous—to cite one example, he paid off most of his translator George Rose's graduate-school loans with part of his first World Series bonus.

But Irabu was often morose and given to long fits of depression. Despite efforts by Derek Jeter, David Cone, and David Wells to help him integrate into the team, he spent much of his time alone, sitting by himself in the Yankee stadium bullpen out in right center field. On the road, he would shut himself in his hotel room poring over anatomy books, trying to understand physiology. (He liked to draw pictures of the human body and became quite skilled at it.) Still, acquaintances described Irabu as being lonely for company—if he hooked up with you for dinner one night, then he'd call you up the next and the night after to go out. It seemed that when he drank, he liked to do so in the company of others, not home alone as others might.

Hideki Irabu found dead in his Los Angeles home

by on Jul.29, 2011 @ 5:51 am, under Other
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Asahi Shimbun is reporting that Hideki Irabu was found dead in his house in Los Angeles (he was apparently found hanging).

The New York Daily News has more.  A snip:

Former Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu, a hard-throwing righthander touted as a superstar when he arrived in New York from Japan, was found dead in his Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. home Thursday, according to the team.

He was 42.

Multiple reports indicate that police are investigating the death as a suicide, although those reports were unconfirmed as of Thursday afternoon.

TMZ has a little more information:

Former New York Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu was found dead yesterday in his California home -- and law enforcement sources tell TMZ, it appears he committed suicide by hanging himself. We're told a friend found him.

L.A. County Coroner is still trying to locate next of kin.

Irabu attempted a comeback in 2009 with the Kochi Fighting Dogs but ended up calling it quits in 2010 because of right wrist problems.  He also recently made the headlines when he was arrested on suspicions of drunk driving.

View past Hideki Irabu posts.

UPDATE 8/1 @ 2:47pm - According to Nikkan Sports, Irabu was hoping to make his way into film.  It also appears as though Irabu struggled to keep himself occupied after retirement -- he apparently spent a lot of time renting and watching videos to pass the time.  And while he was living in the US, Irabu really wanted to return to Japan.

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Career Stats

Year Tm G GS CG ShO W L Sv Hld WPCT BF IP H HR BB IBB HBP SO WP BLK R ER ERA WHIP
1988 LOT 14 6 0 0 2 5 1 -- .286 162 39.1 30 7 18 0 1 21 1 1 19 17 3.89 1.22
1989 LOT 33 2 0 0 0 2 9 -- .000 211 51.0 37 1 27 0 2 50 6 0 20 20 3.53 1.25
1990 LOT 34 11 4 0 8 5 0 -- .615 544 123.2 110 6 72 1 7 102 12 2 58 52 3.78 1.47
1991 LOT 24 16 2 0 3 8 0 -- .273 471 100.2 110 20 70 0 1 78 10 1 78 77 6.88 1.79
1992 LOT 28 4 0 0 0 5 0 -- .000 336 77.0 78 2 37 0 1 55 4 1 38 33 3.86 1.49
1993 LOT 32 14 6 0 8 7 1 -- .533 592 142.1 125 11 58 0 6 160 6 1 59 49 3.10 1.29
1994 LOT 27 26 16 1 15 10 0 -- .600 870 207.1 170 16 94 2 6 239 13 2 77 70 3.04 1.27
1995 LOT 28 27 9 2 11 11 0 -- .500 835 203.0 156 9 72 1 9 239 11 1 70 57 2.53 1.12
1996 LOT 23 23 3 0 12 6 0 -- .667 639 157.1 108 7 59 0 3 167 7 4 56 42 2.40 1.06
1997 NYY 13 9 0 0 5 4 0 -- .556 246 53.1 69 15 20 0 1 56 4 3 47 42 7.09 1.67
1998 NYY 29 28 2 1 13 9 0 -- .591 732 173.0 148 27 76 1 9 126 6 1 78 78 4.06 1.29
1999 NYY 32 27 2 1 11 7 0 0 .611 733 169.1 180 26 46 0 6 133 7 0 98 91 4.84 1.33
2000 MON 11 11 0 0 2 5 0 0 .286 247 54.2 77 9 14 0 1 42 5 2 45 44 7.24 1.66
2001 MON 3 3 0 0 0 2 0 0 .000 74 16.2 22 3 3 0 0 18 0 0 9 9 4.86 1.50
2002 TEX 38 2 0 0 3 8 16 2 .273 204 47.0 51 11 16 2 1 30 3 0 30 30 5.74 1.43
2003 HAN 27 27 3 0 13 8 0 -- .619 730 173.0 186 24 47 0 6 164 4 0 77 74 3.85 1.35
2004 HAN 3 3 0 0 0 2 0 -- .000 62 11.2 26 5 4 0 1 7 0 1 19 17 13.11 2.57
NPB 273 159 43 3 72 69 11 -- .511 5452 1286.1 1136 108 558 4 43 1282 74 14 560 508 3.55 1.32
MLB 126 80 4 2 34 35 16 2 .493 2236 514.0 547 91 175 3 18 405 25 6 307 294 5.15 1.40

5/26/2010: Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Keiichi Yabu

by on May.26, 2010 @ 5:05 pm, under MLB
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Games from the 25th:

Angels 8 - Blue Jays 3
Hideki Matsui was the starting DH and batted 6th.  He went 1-for-3: strikeout swinging, walk, strikeout swinging, single to center.  Matsui has now hit safely in four straight games.

Mariners 5 - Tigers 3
Ichiro Suzuki started in right and batted first.  He went 0-for-4: ground out to first, strikeout swinging, ground out to the pitcher, strikeout looking.  Ichiro's 7-game hitting streak came to an end.

Pirates 2 - Reds 1
Akinori Iwamura started at second and batted first.  He went 1-for-4: line out to the pitcher, GIDP, fly out to left, triple to center.  Iwamura has hit safely in three straight games.

Marlins 6 - Braves 4
Kenshin Kawakami started his 9th game of the season and gave up 3 runs on 7 hits (including a homer) over 6 innings of work.  Kawakami took the loss and is now 0-7 on the year.  Final line: 6 IP, 24 BF, 7 H, 2 SO, 0 BB, 3 R, 3 ER.

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Koji Uehara is back on the DL.  The Orioles placed Uehara on the 15-day DL on the 25th due to pain in his right elbow.

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Junichi Tazawa checked in with the Red Sox at their St. Petersburg facilities on the the 25th.  Since getting TJ surgery back in April, Tazawa has been undergoing rehab treatment in Fort Myers -- from 7:30am to 4:00pm.  Tazawa also added weight training to his workouts about three weeks ago.

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41-year-old Keiichi Yabu is looking to make a comeback and has expressed an interest to return to the Majors by starting out with an Independent League club.  But there's also a chance he'll simply return to the NPB as well.

If that isn't possible, a return to the NPB would likely be his next choice.  While the Hanshin Tigers might seem like a fit, Yabu didn't rule out the possibility of going to another NPB team.

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Hideki Irabu was arrested on suspicions of driving while drunk in Los Angeles on the 17th -- it seems he was weaving while driving and almost collided into a park car.  Irabu posted $5,000 bail.

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The first tally of the NL All-Star balloting was posted at MLB.comAkinori Iwamura and Kosuke Fukudome are nowhere on the list (understandable, given their performances so far).

Hideki Irabu announces his retirement

by on Jan.19, 2010 @ 9:43 am, under Other
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It appears Hideki Irabu will be hanging up his cleats once again.

After getting two opinions from doctors on his right wrist, Irabu went to a third doctor (Dr. Jobe) for another opinion and was told that he basically had two options: surgery to remove the inflammation, or rehabilitation, which would have no time-line.

Rehab was recommended.

But Irabu didn't want to go the rehab route because there would be too many question marks.  And surgery as an option also didn't appeal to Irabu because it could cause future problems.

In the end, it seems Irabu conceded to the fact that old age was catching up to him and that retirement was his only option.

This officially ends Irabu's second comeback.

Masato Yoshii and Hideki Irabu to release a book on pitching

by on Dec.30, 2009 @ 12:08 am, under Other
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Masato Yoshii and Hideki Irabu will be working together to release a book next spring on pitching.  It seems there was already a meeting of the minds earlier this month in the US.

The book will be geared towards elementary children and will features opinions on pitching from both Yoshii and Irabu.

Yoshii and Irabu were once teammates back when they both played for the Montreal Expos in 2001.

Kochi Fighting Dogs Release Irabu

by on Sep.14, 2009 @ 8:29 pm, under Independent
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The Kochi Fighting Dogs announced earlier today that they release Hideki Irabu from his contract.  According to a post on Irabu's website, he was diagnosed with inflammation in his right thumb and will require at least 3 weeks for recovery.

The injury will likely shut Irabu down for 3 weeks, not including time for rehab.  Irabu was concerned about  taking up a roster spot and asked that the Kochi Fighting Dogs release him.

Irabu mentions that he intends to go to the US for rehab and will continue to work towards getting his pitching career back on track.  But much will depend on how things going during his rehab.

Hideki Irabu: Second start with Kochi Fighting Dogs

by on Aug.29, 2009 @ 2:08 pm, under Independent
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Hideki Irabu started his second game with the Kochi Fighters Dogs against the Nagasaki Saints on Saturday.

He gave up 5 runs on 6 hits (including a homer), 5 walks, and 3 strike outs over 5 innings of work.

Despite the poor outing, Kochi still managed to beat the Nagasaki Saint, 6-5.

Irabu's final line:
5 IP, 25 BF, 90 NP, 6 H, 5 BB, 3 K, 1 BK, 5 R, 5 ER

2009 Totals

IP BF NP H BB HBP K BK R ER
12 57 207 13 10 1 6 1 8 7

Hideki Irabu: First start with Kochi Fighting Dogs

by on Aug.23, 2009 @ 2:53 pm, under Independent
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Hideki Irabu made his scheduled start against the Ehime Mandarin Pirates on Sunday (first game of a double-header). Irabu gave up 3 runs (2 earned) on 7 hits, 5 walks, and struck out 3 over 7 innings of work. He threw a total 117 pitches.

The game ended in a 4-4.

Irabu's final line:
7 IP, 32 BF, 117 NP, 7 H, 5 BB, 1 HBP, 3 K, 3 R, 2 ER

Said Irabu, "I'm glad I was was able to throw over 100 pitches and get myself into the 7th. I think I did a pretty good job changing speeds on my pitches. I'm part of the rotation so I need to keep having these types of games."

Other notes:

  • 1,072 fans were in attendance, that's more than 3 times the usual number.
  • Replica Irabu uniforms and t-shirts were already available for purchase at the ball park.
  • He topped out at 144km/h on the radar gun and mixed in a fork and a curve.
  • None of the 7 hits he surrendered went for extra base hits.

Hideki Irabu: on the comeback trail

by on Aug.19, 2009 @ 2:47 pm, under Independent
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Hideki Irabu made his first appearance for the Kochi Fighting Dogs in an exhibition game against Shikoku Ginko on Wednesday.

Irabu entered the game in the 4th and tossed a shut-out inning.

Shikoku Ginko won the game, 3-0.

Irabu's final line:
1 IP, 5 BF, 15 NP, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 K, 0 R

=== Update 8/20 @ 6:35am JST

The one hit he gave up was a double to the lead-off batter.

Irabu is also slated to start in a game against the Ehime Mandarin Pirates on the 23rd at Kochi.

Kochi Fighting Dogs hold press conference to introduce Hideki Irabu (2nd update)

by on Aug.10, 2009 @ 2:01 am, under Independent
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Irabu with Kochi manager, Chiaki Sadaoka (Sanspo)

The Kochi Fighting Dogs held their press conference earlier today to introduce their newest member: 40-year-old Hideki Irabu.

Irabu will be making his first official start on August 23rd against the Ehime Mandarin Pirates at Kochi Stadium.

Said Irabu, "If I'm going to do this, I may as well shoot for the top leagues in Japan (NPB)."

=== Update: 8/10 @ 8:24pm JST

According to Sanspo, Irabu will probably be paid about 150,000yen (~US$1,500) a month. At least that's according to the following:

  • The lowest guaranteed salary for a player in the Shikoku - Kyushu league is 120,000yen (~US$1,200).
  • Top paid players on Kochi make anywhere from 170,000 - 180,00yen.
  • The club president mentioned that his salary would fall somewhere in the range of 120,000 and 180,000.

It's nice to see that he won't be getting preferential treatment.

The NPB also announced that according to the rules, Irabu will be free to sign with any NPB team that wants him once the season ends.

And here's a translation of some of the things that he said during the press conference:

Your reasons from switching from the US independent leagues to Kochi?
I thought I'd have a better chance at making an impression with [Japanese] scouts if I pitch over here. But more than that, I just want to pitch as much as I can right now.

There are long bus rides for games in the Shikoku - Kyushu Independent League...
Back when I was with the Expos on their single A team, I remember traveling by bus for 12-13 hours. I've done it before, I can do it again.

Getting back to the NPB at 40...
As long as I can throw, I want to keep on throwing. Age isn't a problem. I started 10 games in a US independent league. I think I'll be able to surprise some people.

You'll be playing with a lot of youngsters...
I'll be more than happy to give out advice if they ask for it.

How would you like to pitch?
I want to stick with my plan plan of throwing fastballs mixed in with sinking pitches.

=== Update: 8/11 2:44pm JST

A few more updates:

  • Irabu's salary will be 160,000yen per month (no bonuses). The team has also assigned him the number 14 (the reverse of his number from his time with the Hanshin Tigers).
  • Irabu tossed 99 pitches in front of reporters after the press conference.
  • The Long Beach Armada has posted an article at their site about Irabu returning to Japan.
  • Prior to signing with Kochi, Irabu apparently approached the Chiba Lotte Marines to see if they might be interested in his services. But they turned him down, citing age as a concern. The Marines also told him that they were more interested in developing their younger players. The Eagles also don't appear to have any interest in the 40-year-old. But surprise, surprise, the Tigers seem to. Club president Shoji Numasawa said he wanted see for himself, just how far he's come back. He did, however, appear to be worried about Irabu's knees.

And a couple of other interview questions picked up by Sponichi:

What kind of path are you envisioning for yourself to get back to the NPB?
I'd like to be a member of Kochi's starting rotation. I also heard that we'll be playing a few games with NPB clubs, so I definitely want to pitch during those games and leave my mark.

Your current situation?
I started throwing on June 13th and started 10 games. I average about 100 pitches per start using fastballs and change-ups. I've worked on my pick-off move and covering first base.

What will you did if you don't get an offer from the NPB?
If there's nothing wrong with me physically, I'll think about what to do at that point.