今村信貴が背番号「26」へ!「45」連続着用は7年でストップ

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やっほーおはあんず~

オフシーズンの背番号シャッフルの一環で、昨年キャリアハイに近い結果を残した今村信貴投手の背番号が、「45」から「26」に変更されました。

今回は、今村の昨シーズンを振り返りつつ、今村の背番号遍歴を見ていきたいと思います。

 

2019年に自己最多の17試合に登板し、81回2/3を投じた今村は、当然のごとくキャンプ1軍スタート。熾烈極まる開幕ローテ争いが始まるはずでした。

ところが、最初の実戦マウンドとなった紅白戦で先発し、2回2安打2四球2失点の散々な内容。この1試合を持って、宮崎キャンプの段階で2軍降格となります。

その後は1軍が沖縄に行き、オープン戦が始まっても、今村にチャンスは回ってこず。そのまま2軍でシーズン突入かと思いきや、開幕延期で救われました。

開幕戦として行われるはずだった横浜との練習試合で久々の1軍昇格を果たすと、2番手で登板して5回を無失点。翌週の2軍紅白戦でも5回無失点と存在感をアピールしたところで、自主練習期間に入りました。



それから開幕前の練習試合が始まったら、なぜか1軍に姿はなかったものの、2軍で普通に投球を続け、7月17日にシーズン初先発。この日は雨の横浜で非常にコンディションが悪かったものの、魂の熱投で5回1失点。チームはコールドで勝利を収め、シーズン初勝利を挙げます。

このままローテ定着と行きたいところでしたが、続くヤクルト戦で2回持たず5失点の大炎上で即2軍送り。そこから一度中継ぎで上がってきたりはしたものの、すぐUターンで思い通りいかない前半戦となります。

 

それでもシーズン折り返しを迎える8月29日に3度目の1軍昇格を果たすと、今度は先発で7回1失点の快投。さらに続く試合でも8回1失点と結果を出して、以降はほとんどローテーションに定着しました。

結局終わってみればシーズン12試合の登板で、5勝2敗防御率3.16。勝利数はキャリアハイに1つ届かなかったものの、防御率は3年目以降で最もいい数字を記録するなど、一気に安定感の増した印象のあるシーズンになりました。

そしてオフには、3年目の2014年から7年間着け続けた「45」に別れを告げて、球団が左のエース番号として確立したいであろう「26」へと昇格。

節目の10年目を迎える今季のシーズンに、弾みをつけました。



その「26」が何を意味するかは言うまでもないので、ここからは、今村がこれまで着けてきた背番号についてみていきます。

実は近年の選手入れ替えや背番号シャッフルの影響で、今村は巨人の中ではかなり長い期間同じ番号を背負い続ける選手でした。どのくらい長いかというと、坂本勇人(2009~)、亀井善行(2009~)に次いで第3位です(同率で大竹、小林)。

もともとはドラフト2位で高校から入団した今村でしたが、当時は若い番号がびっちり埋まっていた関係もあり、2位ながら「65」でのスタート。

それでも1年目から2軍でノーヒットノーラン、2年目は1軍デビューで初勝利と順調にステップを踏み、3年目の2014年から「45」に昇格します。

 

巨人の場合普通だったら、ここからさらによくなっていくか、また大きくなるかで、「45」は中々着け続けることがない番号です。

ところが今村信貴という投手の成績が、絶妙に1.5軍ラインだったこと。さらに「45」という番号自体も、1軍でも2軍でも成立しそうな中間点であることから、「変更の議論すらなされてこなかったんじゃないか?」というくらいに、しっくり来ていました。

それが3年連続で1.5軍を超え1.2軍クラスの成績にはなってきたので、今回番号変更が行われたんだと思います。

それにしても「26」は、考え得る中では最高の番号をもらえたと言えるでしょう。

元々「打たせて取るようで意外と三振が多い」など、若いときの内海哲也との共通点もあり、実際本人も内海を師事して自主トレを行っていました。

去年は高橋優貴が引き受けた「26」ですが、故障も響いて1年で交代。球団がしっくり来る後継者を探しているのは明白なので、今村がすっぽりそこに収まって、後半を迎える現役生活で真の1軍選手になってもらいたいです。

じゃあね~また明日~

おつあんず~




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