As the fans around the globe await Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda’s first career start with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the higher-ups within the organization wanted to take a closer look at him as he underwent his first ever Spring Training bullpen session. And for good reason.
The investment in Maeda isn’t substantial on the surface, but if he’s able to hit all of his benchmarks for a maximum contract return then the front office wants to make sure that he’s healthy enough to do so. And they want to put him on a proper plan towards that hopeful success.
“Before we start putting pen to paper to come up with a plan, we want to spend this time during spring training to be around him, to get to know him, to get a better feel for his work habits,” [Andrew] Friedman said. “To help him come up with a plan between starts. To monitor how much he throws and how he recovers.”
As you would expect, the ones paying Maeda a lot of money want make sure that they come up with a proper plan to get him through his first big league season with relative ease. They don’t want him overdoing things and risking injury, which happened with Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees.
Beyond Friedman, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt got a look at his new prized pitcher:
“Mechanically, he’s very solid,” Honeycutt said. “Able to move the ball, control the baseball, make the ball do different things. He’s actually a good hitter. He’s an athlete.”
It’s great to hear that Maeda is mechanically sound, and that he’s able to do almost magical things with the baseball. His stuff is good, and his control is great, so if he’s able to live up to his hype then the Dodgers might have a special talent on their hands who happens to be in his prime.
As far as the batting goes, Maeda was a lifetime .147 hitter in his Japan days. He hit .194 last season with one home run and five runs batted in. So, not entirely sure if the “good hitter” portion will really matter. Either way, the early look at Maeda is pretty good, and that’s great news thus far.