This was one long layoff.
When Sean Douglass took the mound for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows on Aug. 16, it ended a 22-month stretch between starts.
The 1.98-meter right-hander is now finding his way again after injury took away his 2007 season and his spot on the Hiroshima Carp roster.
The Swallows, the last of five teams in the hunt for the final playoff Central League playoff spot, have been pulling out all the stops, recalling veterans Dickey Gonzalez and Masao Kida from the farm team and signing the now-healthy former Carp.
"I hate to say this, but this is my spring training," Douglass told The Daily Yomiuri on Friday. "I've been playing catch all the time and throwing at a high school, but being in a game is completely different.
"I had thrown 60-pitch bullpens, but after I threw 50 pitches in my first game on the farm team, I thought my arm was going to fall off."
Douglass ended his 22-month layoff by throwing five shutout innings against the Dragons at Nagoya Dome. On Thursday, he allowed three runs in six innings to take the loss against his former club.
"I can throw my two-seamer for strikes, but my other pitches are all 50-50," Douglass said. "I'll throw a great slider one time and the next time it's terrible. Although, I have been able to keep it down and locate it so the batters still have to adjust to the offspeed pitch."
In 2006, he was brought in by new skipper Marty Brown to pitch in the heart of the Carp rotation. Douglass pitched in 20 games, going 9-6 with a 3.41 ERA and striking out 71 batters in 97-2/3 innings.
Although he is slowly getting reacquainted with his feel for live games, the strain on his arm has been a constant companion.
"I throw a 50-pitch bullpen and I'm sore for two days," he said. "I threw 89 pitches in my second start, and I can't lift my arm without pain. Of course you throw 40 pitches before the game, too.
"It's only supposed to hurt like this in spring training."