Thirty-three-year-old Takuya Asao is planning to retire at the end of the season. He is expected to hold a press conference later today.
Asao was arguably was one of the best set-up men in the NPB at his peak, particularly in 2010 and 2011, but he started having problems with his right shoulder in 2012 (likely from overwork) and has never been the same since. His fastball, which used to hit the low-150s, was down to the mid-130s.
In an interview with Tokyo Sports posted on August 29, in response to a comment about throwing a lot of off-speed pitches, Asao said he felt his image was changing. When asked about his thoughts on the fastball, he said it was still a very important pitch for him and that even if he could not throw it as hard as he did before, he still wanted to use it, like as a pitch to get batters to hit the ball foul.
Asao was also asked about his thoughts on Hiromitsu Ochiai overworking him and he said that he did not see it that way and instead felt grateful for the opportunities because it made him the pitcher he is today. He also said he had no regrets.
[UPDATE 9/27 @ 12:41am]
Asao held a press conference at Nagoya Dome on September 26.
October 1, 2017 vs Yakult at Jingu Stadium – Asao became the third player in NPB history to reach 200 career holds. The other two players: Tetsuya Yamaguchi and Naoki Miyanishi.
Source: Daily Sports 10/1/20170 Comments
Asao was diagnosed with an injury to his right shoulder joint in May 2012. He returned to the mound in September. He got a late start the following season because of issues with the shoulder. He developed elbow pain before the start of the season in 2014. He recovered in June, but again had problems later that year in August. He pitched in thirty-six games in 2015, but started having problems with his shoulder during spring camp in 2016. He started pitching in Ni-gun games in April, but started having problems in May. He returned to the Ni-gun mound in July, but never made it back to Ichi-gun. He is hoping to pitch at Ichi-gun this year.
Source: Nikkan Sports 3/5/20170 Comments
Takuya Asao (right shoulder inflammation) pitched in a batting practice scrimmage at Nagoya Stadium on April 20. It was his first session since the start of the regular season. He faced eight hitters, threw thirty pitches, allowed two-could be hits, walked one, and struck out one. He is hoping to take the next step by pitching in a rehab game at Ni-gun.
Source: Sports Hochi 4/20/20160 Comments