Dodgers to Employ Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s Japanese Trainer

Dodgers to Employ Yoshinobu Yamamoto's Japanese Trainer


Turns out the Dodgers’ 12-year, $325 million contract with Yoshinobu Yamamoto was a package deal.

In addition to signing the talented 25-year-old pitcher, the Dodgers will also be bringing on Osamu Yada — also known as “Yada Sensei” — who has been integral to Yamamoto’s training regimen during his successful career in NPB, Japan’s highest professional baseball league.

Yamamoto’s agent, Joel Wolfe of Wasserman, alluded to this while speaking to reporters after Yamamoto’s introductory press conference at Dodger Stadium last Wednesday:

There is a guru over in Japan, Yada Sensei. Yada Sensei will be coming over here. The Dodgers and [director of player personnel] Galen Carr, as did other teams, spent a lot of time going to meet Yada Sensei over in Japan. He does a unique style of training both on the pitching side and the training side with Yoshinobu. It’s a combination of breathing, flexibility, yoga and core training.

Joel Wolfe, Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s agent

Although Wolfe did not say so directly, the Japanese news outlet Sponichi reported the Dodgers will hire Yada directly to the team’s player performance staff. Such a move is not uncommon for an MLB team employing an Asian player making the transition to North America.

Another instance of Yada’s “unique” training regimen is Yamamoto’s between-starts habit of throwing javelins. Wolfe said that Dodger Stadium’s expansiveness will allow him to throw the javelins on the field itself.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan relayed some additional details of the results Yada helped Yamamoto unlock in Japan:

After the change [to a slide-step delivery] he allowed four stolen bases all season, a quarter of what he had given up in 2022. Yamamoto was moving with a dual purpose, and his athleticism eased the evolution. His new delivery called for more explosiveness, and rather than achieve that through added bulk, he remained steadfast in his ways, relying on a movement guru — he goes by Yata Sensei, and one source familiar with his work called him a kinetics expert — to design his training program.

ESPN.com

Wolfe suggested Yamamoto’s durability is directly related to his work with Yada. Not only did the right-hander win the last three Sawamura awards (NPB’s equivalent of the Cy Young award), he did so while throwing no fewer than 171 innings in a season. Yamamoto was 17-6 with a 1.16 ERA across 171 innings in 2023 for the Orix Buffaloes.

Orix pushed the Hanshin Tigers to seven games before losing in the Japan Series, which made for a very long season for Yamamoto. In February, he helped lead Japan to the championship of the World Baseball Classic. Yet his performance never waned, said Wolfe.

One of the things the Dodgers noticed, and we noticed, was a high percentage of pitchers who pitched in the WBC last year, over 80 percent, either regressed or sustained injuries during the season. Yoshinobu was not one of them. He actually went the opposite direction and got better. Nearly all of the NPB stadiums have Trackman and Hawkeye located in their stadiums. All of the data of every pitch he threw was sent back here to all the teams. So they had all the data in addition to the scouts going over there. They were able to track how elite his stuff was and is, and how it improved. That’s a part of why so many teams were so aggressive.

Joel Wolfe

If the link between Yamamoto’s training regimen, injury prevention, and performance is causal, it makes sense the Dodgers would want to bring Yada aboard.

Dodgers pitching coach Mark Prior recently spoke at length with MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM about the importance of having “trust on both sides” whenever a new player integrates his own preparation process with the team’s:

Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

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