Baseball: Low - And - Slow Pitcher Watanabe Bids For Major League Job


Baseball: Low-and-slow pitcher Watanabe bids for major league jobSubmarine right-hander Shunsuke Watanabe said Monday he will try to earn a major league job for next season.
The 37-year-old stalwart for the Pacific League's Lotte Marines played for Japan in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics. Although he has the right to file for free agency, the club will grant him his release so he can pursue offers from overseas.

Watanabe has thrived on being unique. His underhand fastball maxes out around 129 kilometers per hour but rises as it approaches the plate. He relies on pin-point accuracy and changing speeds with an 89-kph curveball that will knuckle in windy conditions.

"Now is the time to try this," he told a press conference at QVC Marine Field. "I thought this was my last chance."

"While there is just a slight chance of making it to the major leagues, I think I can receive an invitation to camp even if it's on a minor league contract."

Watanabe's best season came in 2005, when he went 15-4 with a 2.17 ERA. He hasn't had a winning record since going 13-8 in 2009. Watanabe was 0-4 with a 4.62 ERA in six games this season, and hasn't been a regular member of the Marines' rotation since 2011.

"I've seen how Japanese pitchers have succeeded over there by changing speeds, and thought I wanted to try that out for myself," he said.