Tomo Ohka Tries Knuckleball Path to MLB Comeback

“Ohka’s comeback bid is certainly a long shot, but long shots have paid off before, so we’ll see,” says sports blogger Ricky Doyle. “A good knuckleball has the unique ability to revive a baseball career. Tomo Ohka is looking to harness the pitch’s magic.”

Not magic─rather, skill + physics. We accept the we’ll-see approach to predicting the pathOhka of either knuckleball or knuckleballer. It’s a tough pitch but in the right hands, governed by the right mind set, the knuckleball has worked its career-reviving physics repeatedly on MLB mounds. (See video of Ohka pitching the knuckleball at YouTube.)

The 37-year-old knuckleballer─formerly with the Red Sox, among other North American teams; now back in Japan pitching for the Yokohama BayStars─turned to the pitch in 2011 after suffering a shoulder injury. The knuckleball imposes less wear and tear than other pitches, which accounts in large part for the unusually long careers many knuckleballers have enjoyed.

Ohka has the dubious honor of being the only Montreal Expo to be mentioned on an episode of “The Simpsons,” in which Bart Simpson yells “Look at me! I’m Tomokazu Ohka of the Montreal Expos!” The episode aired in 2003, when Ohka was with the team. He also has the unambiguous honor of pitching the Pawtucket Red Sox’s first no-hitter in 1999.

MLBtraderumors translates comments reported at the Japanese site nikkansports.com: “I threw [the knuckleball] a lot every day,” Ohka says. “I want to give it another shot if given the chance, even if I have to start in the minors.”

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