If you’re a nerdy Swallows fan like me, you occasionally scan through ni-gun boxscores to see who’s been playing on the farm. If you’re such a baseball nerd that you proudly display it in your handle, as Deanna “Marinerds” Rubin does, you GO to Toda to see who’s been playing on the farm. Deanna has been kind enough to pass on some peculiar photos she was able to take during a recent trip to a Swallows’ farm game.
Look closely at that catcher. That’s not recently drafted Yudai Hoshino, Genki Nitta, or even recently-turned-bullpen-catcher Masakazu Fukukawa. That is infielder and pinch-runner Masayoshi Miwa donning the tools of ignorance. Miwa who often finds himself on the top team acting as a pinch-runner/defensive replacement is apparently catching for the first time since elementary school. This wasn’t merely pregame or on-the-side practice, Miwa actually started the game as catcher for the ni-gun Swallows. Apparently the idea was floated after the Aikawa injury, and Miwa caught some bullpen sessions. Without the 3-and-a-half-hour rule in effect and a shortage of catchers it seems the Swallows want to increase the potential flexibility of their lineup. The above picture may not give enough sense of scale but the action shots below show that Miwa is clearly undersized for the position. Miwa is listed at 70 kilos while the typical catcher tends to weight at least 80 kilos.
Apparently Miwa didn’t look horrible and may be serviceable as an emergency catcher. The team will apparently give Miwa opportunities to catch bullpen and occasionally practice fielding. Deanna notes that Miwa was practicing fielding pop fouls prior to the game, and wasn’t looking too good.
While we applaud the effort, hopefully Miwa will never actually have to catch for the top team.