"Fuji, the person on this team who distrusts Fuji the least is yourself."
What was said at A's touched his heart. Fujinami said so on a local television station after completing his first season in MLB.
I would like you to know about his baseball life, which has been full of hardships.
This is 18-year-old Shintaro Fujinami at a high school tournament KOSHIEN in 2012. His batting is also surprising, but check out his overwhelming pitching at the summer tournament in the second half of the video.
Fujinami won consecutive spring and summer championships in high school tournaments, attracting attention from all over Japan. He became a popular player for the Hanshin Tigers immediately after graduating from high school. Fans were excited about the young player's performance, and in response, the team continued to overuse him without a long-term vision.
That worked fine for a few years. He led his team to many wins, and won the strikeout title. However, his grades gradually declined from there. Even when the young Fujinami was tired and injured, he continued to pitch for his team. At the same time, as his body changedfrom a young body to an adult's body, he became unable to control his body properly. The number of walks increased, and the number of wild pitches also increased. The Hanshin baseball team dropped him to the second team.
A characteristic of Japanese people is that they choose to improve their weaknesses rather than develop their strengths. Even if that means losing some of its strengths. First, the team had him change his instep pitching form. After that, the form continued to be manipulated many times, and it became unclear what was the right thing to do.
The Japanese baseball world did not yet have a method for guiding a tall player like him. Instead, he received mixed advice. The old way that senior players used to do it, unscientific advice such as "Train to the point where your body screams beyond your limits" and "You should go to a temple for spiritual training." Unable to accept all such advice, he continued training, confused and selective. That his choice was correct is evidenced by the fact that so far there have been no major injuries to the elbow. It was the media that made Fujinami even more distressed as he suffered from lack of results. Some media criticized him. It didn't matter whether it was true or not. "Fujinami is a lazy person who hates practicing" "He's a big idiot who won't listen to important advice" Deliberately distorting Fujinami's actions and statements to make fun of them became a continuing favorite of some media outlets. The team also recognizes that they were unable to protect Fujinami from malicious media. He moved back and forth between the first and second teams without any results. During that time, he was constantly receiving transfer approaches from other teams and MLB, as his potential was recognized as great. However, Fujinami was a popular player representing Hanshin for a time, so Hanshin did not accept the offer.
He has the personality of wanting to live up to the expectations of those around him, and has been active in accordance with Hanshin's wishes, but as he approaches his 30s, he has finally made a decision. "Shintaro Fujinami's life is meant to satisfy Shintaro Fujinami." He came to MLB without completely believing in himself. And a year passed, and he finally began to understand how extraordinary his powers were.
If he had been on a team that coached him from a long-term perspective, rather than a team that overworked young players for the sake of the team's popularity, wouldn't he have become a player who overwhelms others by now? If he had become a professional baseball player in the era when scientific approach training methods were introduced in Japan, how far would his results have improved? If he had joined a team other than Hanshin, he wouldn't have been targeted by the media so relentlessly, and wouldn't he have been able to play baseball in a more stable mood? When some Japanese people see him pitching well in the MLB, they feel some kind of guilt. Originally, he should have been able to develop his talent even more. And they watch his pitches with a prayerful feeling. Throw with confidence, you're great!