February 13, 2010 - Golden Baseball League (GBL)
(Yuma, AZ. Feb. 13, 2010) Eri Yoshida, the 18-year old female knuckleball pitcher from Japan, recorded her first official win at the Arizona Winter League last night as she started and pitched four scoreless innings as her Yuma Scorpions squad defeated Team Canada by a score of 5-0. She scattered four hits, struck out one, and walked none in her return from the bullpen. She exited to a standing ovation from the crowd that didn't stop clapping until she came out of the dugout and tipped her cap and bowed to the fans.
Yoshida was the first Japanese female to play professionally in Japan and her debut for the Kobe Cruise 9 in the Kansai League was attended by over 12,000 fans. She arrived in Yuma, Arizona to play in the Arizona Winter League which is the premier showcase league for professional free agents in the U.S. in hopes of continuing her professional career with a team in the U.S. Over 30 players from the AWL have been signed each year by major league organizations, independent pro leagues, and foreign professional leagues. Two pitchers from the 2007 AWL are already pitching in the major leagues and the New York Mets and Mexico City Red Devils have already signed players this season.
Yoshida was the opening night starter for the Scorpions on Jan. 29th. After a pitching a scoreless first inning she went to the rosin bag for the first time at the start of the second inning. It was sticky rock rosin, as opposed to the dry powder rosin used in Japan, and she was unfamiliar with it. Using it like powder rosin, it caked her hand with the gummy substance and unable to get it off she continued to pitch. With the sidearm knuckleball she throws sticking in her hand it was almost uncontrollabe as she walked a batter and hit four as well. By the time she was out of the inning she had given up five runs.
"I hadn't realized that she was unfamiliar with the rock rosin," said Yuma Scorpions and former Dodger All-Star Mike Marshall. "After that first outing, we taught her how to use it and moved her to relief where she has been just about unhittable over the last two weeks. She not only has a very good professional knuckleball, but mixes in a couple of nice breaking pitches. Surprisingly she gets her strikeouts on her fastball which comes up there about 15 - 20 mph faster than her knuckleball and batters laying back for the floater don't have time to get around on it. If she keeps pitching like she is now, she will get signed to a pro contract by the end of the Arizona Winter League."
Since her opening night difficulties, Yoshida has now given up only 1 run in nine innings pitched and has lowered her E.R.A. from 22.50 to 4.91. Her complete stats can be found at:
More info regarding the Arizona Winter League can be found at www.arizonawinterleague.com.