BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Wade LeBlanc is more well-traveled than most minor league pitchers who wind up with the Buffalo Bisons.
The journey at first sounds familiar. The 31-year-old lefthander has spent time with five major league teams over seven years in the bigs.This season, he’s off to a great start, with a 4-1 record and a 1.88 ERA, good for fourth in the International League.
But other pitchers haven’t dropped everything and signed with a Japanese team, moving a wife and two kids halfway across the world.
“The Seibu Lions called and told me how much they thought I could help their team,” LeBlanc said. “They put a good offer on the table. You don’t think about it too much, you just sign your name and go.”
The Lake Charles, Louisiana native had a big adjustment to make.
“In Japan man, it’s crazy, it’s a completely different game. They play baseball a different way. The bases are still 90 feet, the mound is still 60 feet six inches. It’s a big adjustment for someone who’s been in American baseball so long.”
Now, LeBlanc feels he has picked up some tips from watching Japanese pitchers that in some ways have translated to his current approach.
“Every pitcher over there has the ability to throw anything they want at any time and that makes a big difference when hitters are in fastball counts and you throw something else.”