Yokohama BayStars pitching coach Lyle Yates joined MLB Network Radio earlier this week to talk about the upcoming MLB arrival of Japanese superpitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

Yates discussed a wide range of topics with Jeff Joyce and Mel Antonen. Among them:

The difference in approaches between Japanese and American pitchers:

Repetition is absolutely the biggest difference. And [by] repetition, I mean that they throw, and they throw, and they throw. And it starts at a very young age … And in a game, you’ll see pitchers throw any pitch on any count, and that’s a big difference as well.

Whether Tanaka’s career workload should be a cause for concern for MLB teams:

I think that is a legitimate concern to be honest with you … If you go back and look at what he did in high school, and even earlier than that, he’s thrown a lot of pitches, so in terms of where his arm is, where his body is at this stage of his career, he just turned 25 years of age. I think he’s thrown more pitches than an average 25-year-old would throw. And I think that down the road, you have to take a look at that, medically and physically.

Whether Japanese pitchers are injured less than American pitchers.

This is the way I look at it: I think in America over here, we can throw a little bit more. Look what the Texas Rangers have done under the watch of Nolan Ryan. They increased what they are doing. So there is room to throw more there. But if you look at Japanese baseball and you go and you look at the number of injuries – now if there is information out that says there is fewer injuries in baseball at the professional level in Japan, I’m here to say that’s not true. Because I was a pitching coach in Japan, I’ve been a pitching coach here in the States with several teams and a manager in the minor leagues, and I know that the workload is different. But I know also that the number of injuries is not less in Japan than in the States, so I’m here to say that’s absolutely not true.

How Japanese teams fix flaws in their pitchers’ games:

More is better. That’s the general way of looking at it. And that is if something is not working properly, I am going to fix it with more repetition … I’ve seen pitchers come out of a game, go over to the bullpen and work on something with the pitching coach. And the next day they’re out there throwing … It’s not in my opinion always focused properly, and the body does need recovery time. It has to restore and replenish and revive. There has to be a particular amount of time to have that happen. But in Japan, I think you’ll see repetition is the key.

What whichever MLB team signs Tanaka should expect from the Japanese pitcher:

I would tell them that right now, you’re gonna get a phenomenal pitcher. This guy is a big guy, he has a strong build, he has a tremendous fastball, mid-90s, he has a slider, and he has a tremendous split-finger fastball. So I would say you’re gonna get, right now, a definite impact pitcher, no question in my mind. Is that impact gonna be one, two, three years? I think you’re gonna be safe in saying that. Me, personally? I would try to avoid a long-term contract.

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