Shintaro Fujinami's Great Challenge

 Is ball speed justice?

I want you to know that Shintaro Fujinami is taking on a challenge this season. He is willing to sacrifice pitch speed to change his pitching form.

Last season, Shintaro Fujinami drew attention for the velocity of his pitches, setting the record for the fastest velocity among Japanese-born pitchers. He feels he could throw faster if he wanted to, but he also understands that it can lead to arm injuries. Unlike most pitchers, he has battled the fear of throwing the ball too fast throughout his career. It was both a fear and a temptation. He has resisted the temptation and, unusually for a pitcher with a powerful fastball, his elbow is fine so far.

 Is ball speed justice? Many pitchers have injured their elbows and had surgery because they continue to throw hard and fast pitches. How long will MLB tolerate this situation of disposable pitchers?

Fujinami, who came to MLB for the first time last year, failed to make the most of his talent in Japan and was ridiculed by malicious media and fans who said he would only be an embarrassment in MLB. He also understood that the challenge would be tough, so he decided to increase his pitching speed, even at the risk of injury. He was lucky not to injure his elbow.

In his second year, he no longer has to prove that he can make it to the MLB. It was obvious that if he kept doing what he was doing last year, he would break down sooner or later, so he is changing his form so that he can throw pitches that put as little stress on his elbow as possible while still being able to get strikeouts.

However, Fujinami is not a technical pitcher by nature and has not yet fully adapted to the change in form. He has not been able to get the feel of throwing strikes again, what he needs now is to keep throwing in real games.

Let me remind you. The Hanshin Tigers wasted five years of Fujinami's career by spacing him out, making him pitch short innings, and judging him solely on results. Oakland developed him dramatically in two months by letting him pitch consistently in the majors.

What he needs now is to let his new form take root in his body. It doesn't matter if the opponent is strong or weak, whether he's pitching in the major leagues, AAA, or against high school teams, he won't get strikes until he gets a new feel for the game, but once he gets the strike zone, Fujinami can strike out the toughest hitters in the majors. It's not the batter he's fighting, it's himself. We must let him keep pitching.Then he will be able to talk to himself, understand and become one with his new form.

Fujinami is currently on the injured list with a strained shoulder. He is under contract for one year, so it remains to be seen if he will be able to continue this great challenge. I respect his decision, but if Fujinami's challenge succeeds, many pitchers will be saved from surgery in the future.Fujinami is a courageous pitcher who is taking on a situation where injuries and surgeries are commonplace for pitchers.