St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Junichi Tazawa (63) throws a pitch in the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Boston Red Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
Junichi Tazawa's career went off-track for a while, thanks to Tommy John surgery in the spring of 2010. In 2012, his first full season back from the procedure, he's looked like an entirely different pitcher than the one we remember, with his velocity up in the mid-to-high 90s, and his stuff making him a dominant force in relief, one who could be in the back-end of the 2013 Red Sox bullpen.
Because of all of this, WEEI's Alex Speier goes back in time a bit, to talk about how the Red Sox ended up discovering Tazawa in the first place, back when he wasn't well-known even within his native Japan:
Throughout 2008, with Tazawa dominating the industrial league in spectacular fashion, Deeble and the Sox scouted every tournament in which he played, ultimately getting something in the vicinity of 20 looks at the pitcher - seeing him struggle, seeing him dominate and everything in between. As the year progressed, the team was no longer alone in the endeavor, as both major league and NPB teams familiarized themselves with the pitcher's body of work with Eneos.
Boston's scouting started well before this, though, and as Speier details, it's the reason they ended up being the club Tazawa wanted to sign with when he bypassed the Japanese pros. If you've forgotten how Boston found Tazawa, or just want a refresher on why we should be encouraged by his performance, this is a must-read piece of work from Speier.