Japanese Female Knuckleballer Wants to Follow in Tim Wakefield’s Footsteps

by

TOKYO — Female pitcher Eri
Yoshida
says she hopes to follow in the footsteps of her hero Tim
Wakefield
of the Boston Red Sox when she heads to the minor leagues next
month.

The 18-year-old Yoshida is a
knuckleballer who told a news conference Tuesday she learned her
pitching style as a young girl by watching video of Wakefield.

She also recently got a few tips from
the 43-year-old All-Star at the Red Sox spring training facility at Fort
Myers, Fla.

"I want to practice knuckle pitching
more, and I want to become a stable knuckleball player like Wakefield,"
Yoshida said.

Yoshida, Japan's first female
professional baseball player, has signed with the Chico Outlaws of the
Golden Baseball League and will report for spring training in early May.

She will be the first female to pitch
for a pro team in the United States since Ila Borders retired more than
10 years ago, the Outlaws said.

The 5-foot Yoshida said she was
stunned by the height of American players, but stressed she is ready to
play in the United States.

"I want to bring myself to concentrate
only on the catcher's mitt without worrying about the height of
players," she said. "I'll do my best."

The 10-team Golden Baseball League is
an independent minor league with teams in California, Arizona and
Canada.

Yoshida became Japan's first female
professional player last year when she pitched for the Kobe Cruise 9 in
the Kansai Independent League.

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