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Japanese high school pitcher throws 232-pitch complete game, returns on three days rest

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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(AP)

This story is rather remarkable and disturbing at the same time. Especially when it comes on the same day Johan Santana announces he'll be undergoing his second major shoulder operation in 31 months.

According to Baseball America's Ben Badler, Japanese high school pitcher Tomohiro Anraku has taken on a workload this week that might make Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo pass out or consider checking into an institution.

In just five days, the 16-year-old Anraku has been asked to throw an astounding 22 innings and 391 total pitches during tournament play in his home country.

Yes, that's 22 innings and 391 pitches... over a five-day span.

Here's Badler with the pitch count breakdown.

Anraku’s 232-pitch outing on Tuesday in “Spring Koshien,” Japan’s major spring high school tournament, put him on the international radar. A sophomore at Saibi High in Ehime Prefecture, Anraku led his team to a 4-3 victory with a 13-inning complete game, touched 94 mph with his fastball and struck out 13.

The encore came today—on three days’ rest—when Anraku threw 159 pitches in Saibi High’s 4-1 victory in front of 43,000 fans at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound righthander threw all nine innings for the complete-game victory, struck out eight, walked one, allowed seven hits and hit a pair of batters. He even helped himself at the plate as Saibi’s cleanup hitter, going 2-for-4 with a double and a triple that gave Saibi the lead late in the game.

Well, hey, at least they won both games. But man, my arm is dangling at my side just thinking about taking on that type of workload. Obviously, the younger you are the easier it is to recover, but this seems to go beyond acceptable or reasonable and well into absurd and ridiculous.

Then again, as Mike Axisa of Eye on Baseball noted, this is not unusual by any stretch in Japan, In fact, it's believed Daisuke Matsuzaka threw 413 pitches over a three-day span at the same tournament in 1998. That includes a complete game one day, 17 more innings the next, and an inning of relief on the third. He threw a complete game the first day, 17 innings the next day, then worked an inning and got the save on the third day.

That certainly didn't ruined Dice-K's career, but you have to wonder if it's helping to shorten it or at least contributing to his loss of effectiveness at the young age of 32. It's a fair question. You'll just never find a good answer.

Oh, and by the way, Saibi's next game in the tournament is scheduled for Monday and winning could mean playing again on Tuesday and Wednesday. Sadly, it is assumed that Anraku is only getting started and may be asked (or should I say expected?) to appear in each of those games.

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