When 772 pitches isn’t enough

ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Jones has written an amazing piece of sports journalism exploring Japanese baseball culture, with a focus on the overuse of 16-year-old Tomohiro Anraku, who threw 772 pitches over five games in nine days. For now, Anraku is the greatest teenage pitcher in Japan. How long will his arm stay healthy?

In America, nagekomi, like throwing 772 pitches in a single tournament, would be considered child abuse. Scientists would debunk it, and surgeons would decry it. But in Japan, nagekomi is important. It’s maybe even essential. It is many things all at once, but mostly it is an exercise in remembering, and it is beautiful.

Read the ESPN The Magazine story.

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Jeff Passan on the pitch count problem and how cultural convictions are ruining Japanese pitchers

Jeff Passan writes about 16-year-old Tomohiro Anraku thowing 772 pitches in one week during a high school baseball tournament in Japan.

During the final game Wednesday, Anraku, whose fastball reached 94 mph earlier in the tournament, labored to crack 80. It was his third consecutive day starting a game and his fourth in five days, and those came after his first start of the tournament, in which he threw 232 pitches over 13 innings.

When word of Anraku’s exploits filtered out from Koshien Stadium, the reaction depended on proximity. Nearby, in the Japanese baseball culture that equates pitch count with superiority, Anraku was a hero. Far away, in an American baseball culture that has seen more elbows and shoulders blow out than ever before, Anraku was the picture of excess. For a man who bridges the societies, Anraku represented something much more unsavory.

Read the Yahoo! Sports story.

Japanese 16-year-old pitching prospect throws 772 pitches in 9 days

From the Baseball America story.

Tomohiro Anraku’s intense workload has sparked discussion in Japanese media and social media about whether it’s right for a coach to use a 16-year-old pitcher this way. In the U.S. baseball community, even those who believe that pitchers should throw a higher volume of pitches are uneasy with Anraku’s workload and lack of rest. Some major league scouts and front-office personnel have been fuming, calling Anraku’s usage dangerous, reckless and abusive.