Friday, April 16, 2021

Tatsuya Uchi

Longtime Chiba Lotte Marine pitcher Tatsuya Uchi announced his retirement back in January.  Uchi was the Marines number one pick out of Kawasaki Kogyo High School in the 2003 draft.  He made his debut with the top team as a starter the following season after going 0-1 with a 10.69 ERA in four starts he was sent back down to the farm team to become a reliever.  He became the closer on the ni-gun team, recorded 10 saves and was the top reliever in the Eastern League in 2004.  He never started another game after that.

He bounced between the top and farm teams frequently during his first few years and then he started to run into issues staying healthy.  He had shoulder surgery in late 2007 and missed the first half of the next season doing rehab.  Despite spending most of 2010 with the farm team he pitched for the Marines in the 2010 Nippon Series and did quite well - pitching eight innings in four games and striking out 13 while giving up six hits, one walk and zero earned runs.  His performance in the Series earned him an "Outstanding Player" Award.  Unfortunately he hurt his ankle after the Series and had surgery which cut into his playing time in 2011.  Once he finally started playing again, he suffered an elbow injury that put him back on the sidelines.  Elbow and/or ankle injuries would constantly cost him playing time over the next three seasons.  He put up pretty good numbers when he was healthy so the Marines took their time with him.  2017 was the first season in his career that he spent the entire year with the ichi-gun squad, He took over as closer from Naoya Masuda for a stretch during that season and finished the year with a 5-1 record along with 16 saves and 2.94 ERA.  He started the 2018 season as the closer and notched 26 saves although his ERA rose to 3.84.  He made the All Star team that year for the only time in his career.  

Those two seasons would cost him.  He appeared in 50 ichi-gun games in 2017, by far the most ever for him, and he topped that the following year by getting into 58 games.  Those 108 games were over a third of the 308 total games he appeared in his career.  He needed elbow surgery after the 2018 season ended and missed all of 2019.  He got into 24 games with the farm team in 2020 but Lotte released him after the season ended.  He attended the 12 team tryout in December but didn't draw any interest.

His first BBM cards were from the 2004 Rookie Edition (#21) and 1st Version (#119) sets.  He did not have a Calbee card until Series Three (#159) in 2016, 12 years after his rookie season.  Here's a bunch of his cards:

2004 BBM Rookie Edition #21

2004 BBM 1st Version #119

2006 BBM Marines #M11

2010 BBM Nippon Series #S05

2011 BBM Marines 20th Anniversary #14

2015 BBM Marines #M11

2016 Calbee #159

2018 Epoch NPB #187

2020 BBM Marines #M11

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