18-year-old Eri Yoshida became the first woman to pitch professionally in the United States in close to a decade on Saturday, throwing three innings for the Chico Outlaws of the Golden Baseball League.
Dubbed Japan’s “Knuckle Princess” because of her patented knuckleball, Yoshida pitched a scoreless first inning before allowing four runs over her final two frames. She also had an RBI single.
Yoshida allowed five hits in all and issued one walk while topping out at 47 pitches. According to the Associated Press, she learned to throw the knuckler at a young age by watching Tim Wakefield, who she met this spring and got some tips from. How far the pitch will take her, of course, remains to be seen.
The Mets signed catcher Jose Lobaton to a minor league contract, the team announced Friday. The deal includes an invitation to spring training, where it’s assumed Lobaton will be in the mix for a backup role behind Travis d'Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki.
Lobaton, 33, is coming off of a four-year stint with the Nationals. He put up his worst career numbers in 2017, producing -0.6 fWAR after slashing just .170/.248/.277 with four home runs in 158 plate appearances. While he’ll give the Mets little to work with at the plate, his near-decade of experience behind the dish should make him a decent emergency option, if nothing else.
In the meantime, the Mets are expected to roll with a d’Arnaud/Plawecki platoon to start the season. Both catchers saw slight upticks in value over the 2017 season: d’Arnaud turned in 0.8 fWAR after hitting a career-high 16 home runs, while Plawecki collected 0.6 fWAR and three homers after raising his batting line over the Mendoza Line for the first time since 2015.