Hanshin infielder Takashi Toritani (34) was the lone Tiger selected to the 2015 Mazda All-Star Game (July 17 – Tokyo Dome; July 18 – Mazda Stadium) by both fans and players alike. He was dropped to 7th in the batting order for the first time in 5 years on June 28th against DeNA (at Koshien) because of the effects of a hit-by-pitch, but manager Yutaka Wada (52) made it clear that he would continue to use the shortstop. He’s showing himself worthy of the title of Iron Man as he continues his consecutive games (and innings) streak, but other clubs “welcome” him to keep it up…
On the 29th, a day off for the players, Toritani said about being selected to the All-Star Game by his peers, “It’s an honor to be chosen by the players for the second straight year. I hope to go out there and play well and not embarrass myself or the athletes who so kindly voted for me.” After getting drilled in the back with a pitch on the 21st against Yakult, he was moved down to 7th in the order for the DeNA match on the 28th. He’s also been dealing with a nagging sore right oblique since the season began, as well as general fatigue and wear and tear. It looked as though his streak was in jeopardy, but he emphatically said, “I’m OK. Until management tells me I have to sit, I intend to play every game.” Wada added, “Time heals all wounds. He’ll likely move up in the order in time. After all, he is a top-of-the-order hitter. He’ll be in there,” indicating that he will keep Toritani in the starting lineup.
As of June 29, Toritani ranked third in league history with 1536 straight games played and sixth with 502 complete games in succession. Both of these marks are top among shortstops. Through it all, other clubs are grinning from ear to ear. One scout said, “We welcome the idea of Toritani and Wada insisting on him playing every inning of every game. His range on defense has clearly decreased recently. His errors have increased but he’s also made a lot of mistakes that do not show up in the record books. I know management wants to keep using him because he’s got a good bat, but we’re grateful for his present defensive skills.”
Last year, Toritani was charged with just 5 errors. Already this year after 70 games (as of June 29) he already has 4 (editor’s note: he picked up his 5th on July 3rd), prompting another team’s scout to say, “Hanshin has Murton in left and Uemoto at second, which puts a huge burden on Toritani to play sound defense. Even moreso because he’s playing at less than 100% right now. Wada might be worried that if he pulls Toritani before he sets the record, he will ‘age quickly’ like Kanemoto did and then retire prematurely. But that (way of thinking) works to our advantage.”
Toritani’s always saying, “I know I’ll have to give up playing shortstop when someone better than me comes along. Until then I want to play in every game. I insist on it.” Clearly he wants to make the other teams eat their words.