Japanese sports media headlined the news of Roki Sasaki’s (Chiba Lotte) injury on Saturday with the headline “Despair this season.
Sasaki was removed from the first team roster on Friday. The injury news was that she will need at least two months of rehabilitation due to a left adductor muscle injury. The news came a day after he pitched six innings (93 pitches) against SoftBank on April 24, allowing one run on four hits with nine strikeouts.
Speaking about Sasaki’s injury, Lotte manager Masato Yoshii said, “The day before, I felt pain after throwing 90 pitches to face the last batter in the sixth inning. After he was replaced, the pain got worse.” Sasaki finished the inning with a 93-pitch outfield fly ball and was replaced by a bullpen pitcher in the seventh inning.
“It could take two months,” Yoshii said, “depending on how his recovery goes. I think it could be as early as two months, or longer if he’s slow to recover. (If it’s late), it will be difficult for him to return this season.” “Despair” was the word used by Japanese media.
Sasaki was dubbed the “Reiwa Monster” for his 163-kilometer fastball as a junior at Ofunato High School. In the 2019 Nippon Professional Baseball Draft, four teams selected Sasaki with the first overall pick, and after a lottery, Chiba Lotte won the right to select him.
Chiba Lotte carefully managed Sasaki from the start of his rookie year. They delayed his debut by a year. For a year, he traveled with the first team to protect his shoulder, working on his pitching form and training. In 2020, Sasaki did not pitch a single game for either the first or second teams. Yoshii was closely involved in Sasaki’s development as pitching coach in 2020 and pitching coordinator in 2021.
Sasaki made his first-team debut in 2021 and received pitch count and innings management. He pitched 11 games (63⅓ innings) in 2021 and 20 games (129⅓ innings) last year. Last year, Sasaki became the youngest pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball history to throw a perfect game, before taking a month off in the middle of the season with a blistered finger.
After playing in the World Baseball Classic in March, Sasaki gradually increased his pitch count this season, building up to 120 pitches in June. His highest pitch count in a game this season was 109 pitches on June 11 against Hiroshima. In the last three games of the first half, he threw 107, 106, and 104 pitches.
This year, he planned to pitch a full-time season without an innings limit, but he suffered an untimely injury in his first start of the second half. In 13 games and 85 innings pitched, he went 7-2 with a 1.48 ERA and 130 strikeouts. He ranks first in ERA and strikeouts.바카라
The Japanese publication Daily Gendai Digital said, “Sasaki’s development plan has been delayed. He had to take a break from pitching due to blisters on his fingers, and now he’s injured again. He won’t have the experience of overcoming the toughest summer months, so he’ll have to go through the season step by step next year. With a side injury, he can’t even train (during the rehabilitation period). I’m fortunate that it’s not a shoulder or elbow injury, but it will be a few years before I can be a full-time starter.”