Watanabe Flashy Start to Spring Training

Shizuo Kambayashi/Associated Press
Eric D. Schabell
Contributing Writer

Shunsuke Watanabe, for those not familiar, is the reliever from Japan signed in the offseason to a Minor League deal with an invite to Minor League Spring Training.

Over on WEEI Sports, Rob Brandford reported that he showed up day one at the field sporting such flashy clothes that he was, "...visible from across the JetBlue Park complex thanks to streaks of fluorescent orange on his shirt and shorts."

He is a long shot to make the team out of Spring Training, but who knows if he might not make an appearance sometime down the road this season. He is giving it his best shot and has prepared well, working out with major league baseballs since October, while also coming to camp understanding he has to excel as a reliever (a new role for him).

Now why would we be interested in a little known acquisition from Japan in the Red Sox Minor League relief corps?

Well my fellow baseball loving Red Sox fans, Shunsuke Watanabe has one of the most fascinating pitching motions you will ever see. He is a submarine pitcher with such an extremely low arm angle that, as he pointed out through a translator, his knuckles actually hit the ground ‘€œonce or twice a season,’€ although never to the point of pain.

He also rotates so low in his delivery that his right leg scrapes the ground, so he has a pad sewn into the knee of his uniform pants. He also inserts a longer one into his stocking (he wears it classic style) and reinforces the toe of his spike. He does this to protect his right leg and foot from his repeated scrapes against the ground.

He has had this arm motion since he was 14 years old, picked up upon his father’€™s advice, and it has produced 13 seasons as a starter for the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan.

Don't believe it until you see it?

As crazy as this looks, it has more applications than just throwing baseballs.

Shunsuke Watanabe holds the Japanese record for skipping stones.


He appeared on a Japanese variety show during the offseason when he was asked to demonstrate his stone-skipping abilities. He was so good at it that they set a new Japanese record.

"Twenty-seven," he said when asked.

Fingers crossed that we get to see him in action out of the Red Sox bullpen in 2014.

Post a comment or via twitter @ericschabell with your thoughts.

More by Eric D. Schabell