Tuesday, February 9, 1999
fights off curse
The Rainbow lefty sufferedBy Al Chase
from just about every imaginable
ailment last year
This is a true story.
Troy Yoshimasu is in a tough battle to secure a spot in the Hawaii Rainbows starting rotation.
But, that competition is nothing compared to the battle he waged against one misfortune after another last season when, at times, he was considered the 'Bows No. 1 starting pitcher.
The senior left-hander had his left calf muscle tighten up in his first start of 1998. He missed the third series because he injured himself taking batting practice.
He returned to start against Hawaii-Hilo, but left after four innings with a blister on the pointer finger of his left hand. The blister healed quick enough for Yoshimasu to go seven innings against Florida State in what would be his longest outing of the season.
Then he caught the flu. However, when the symptoms lingered, a recheck determined he had vertigo. He was experiencing dizziness at night and couldn't sleep. That condition cleared up enough for him to pitch in two Western Athletic Conference series, but the blister returned in the Rainbow Easter Tournament title game.
Then the vertigo struck again. He missed a home series against Grand Canyon and did not make the final regular-season, six-game conference road trip.
His mother, Susan, was concerned and at the end of the school year arranged for Troy to meet with the Buddhist minister who conducts yearly services for Troy's grandparents.
"We wanted Troy to get blessed in general," said Susan Yoshimasu, who didn't tell the minister about her son's problems.
"I walked in and said nothing at all," Yoshimasu said. "He asked me if I lived in the dorm and I said 'no.' He said, 'You live off campus. I have to tell you something spooky, but you won't believe me. You've got to move out of that bedroom because there are a lot of bad spirits in there.'
"He told me my moon was totally empty. He said after Dec. 31 my moon would be full and the bad luck would stop."
When Yoshimasu and his roommates moved into the rental house, there were pictures of a guy and gal glued to the wall of the back bedroom.
"You would figure when someone left, they would take the pictures, but they didn't," Yoshimasu said. "We called that the haunted room.
"Four of my six roommates were Japanese. One guy woke up with a rash all over his arms and legs. Another had to have foot surgery. Another . . . said she felt something kick her foot walking down the stairs. She fell and fractured her ankle.
With just one week to go on the rent he had paid, the decision wasn't difficult for Yoshimasu. He left. But Dec. 31 was still several months away.
During fall practice, Yoshimasu got a little too close to a teammate in the weight room and a dumbbell hit his left knee. Arthroscopic surgery was necessary, and it sent the 5-foot-6, 163-pounder to the sidelines until this spring.
Yoshimasu pitched in one scrimmage and the alumni game when UH opened the season. He definitely was behind the other UH pitchers, but has stayed healthy.
"My consistency isn't even halfway there," he said.
"Every day I try to make improvements. I guarantee I'll be back to where I should be when the WAC starts. I'm in a very thick battle for a starting position. We have a lot of arms and a lot of guys are hungry for that role. I like that competition."
He is 2-0 with a 4.85 earned run average, but is the only starter with more walks (7) than strikeouts (4).