Japanese baseball Chiba Lotte Marines pitcher Daiki Iwashita has created a human victory drama. After undergoing surgery for an incurable disease last year, Iwashita returned after a six-month hiatus and threw fast balls up to 153 kilometers.

Iwashita scored one walk and no run in an inning against the Softbank Hawks at Jojo Marine Stadium in Japan on the 25th.

He took the mound in the seventh inning when his team was losing 0-5. He threw a fastball of 153 km on the first pitch, his best record, against the first batter, Kenta Imamiya. He was out after a fly ball to left field, and Guy Takuya walked.

Hotaka Yamakawa, who hit a two-run homer on the day, finished the inning with a double play by hitting a grounder to shortstop. He threw nine fastballs, all of which had a speed limit of over 150 kilometers.

It was a human victory. Sports Hochi, a Japanese media outlet, said, “Iwasita underwent surgery for thoracic yellow ligament ossification, a nationally designated intractable disease, in October last year. In his first appearance this season, he threw a personal best ball at 153 km per hour on the first pitch. He handled Yamakawa with a double play and no hit during the first inning.”

Chest-type yellow ligament ossification is a condition in which the ligamentous tissues connecting the skeletal tissues become thickened or calcium is deposited, making it hard to bend or stretch the spine. Last year, he explained how he felt at the time of the surgery, saying, “My lower left body felt paralyzed and solidified.”

After the surgery, he started leg balance rehabilitation, and a month later, he started training. He focused on rehabilitation, taking advice from a second-tier pitching coach who had a similar disease.

“I’ve had surgery several times before, but I was more nervous than any return. I threw hard,” Iwashita said. “I don’t think it’s going to completely go back to where it was, but it’s very comfortable.”

Iwashita joined Chiba Lotte with the No. 3 pick in the 2014 draft. He underwent last-minute elbow ligament surgery in 2015 and spent the entire year in rehabilitation. He made his first team debut in 2018, and recorded seven wins in 2020 and eight wins in 2021. In March 2022, he underwent another elbow surgery.

In 120 games so far last year, he recorded an ERA of 23 wins, 21 losses, and 14 holds. In 27 games last year, he recorded an ERA of 2.93 with one win and three holds, but was put on the operating table in October.

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