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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Buffaloes sign Yankees bust Igawa


OSAKA — The Orix Buffaloes on Wednesday announced the acquisition of former New York Yankees left-hander Kei Igawa, one of the most expensive Japanese flops ever to play in the major leagues.

News photo
Kei Igawa

Igawa, 32, had been hoping to continue playing in the United States but did not receive any offers after his five-year contact with the Yankees expired last year.

In December 2006, the Yankees signed Igawa to a five-year, $20 million contract after winning the exclusive negotiating rights with a $26 million bid under the posting system.

But he ended up with a 2-4 record with a 6.66 ERA in 16 games with the Yankees, and spent most of his time in the minor leagues. Igawa played his last game in the majors in 2008.

Orix manager Akinobu Okada was the Hanshin Tigers skipper when Igawa played there and was keen to bring him to the Buffaloes.

"Okada is a manager who gave me a pleasant send off to America," said Igawa. "I wanted to play in America but felt that playing under my former boss was best."

"I haven't been watching Japanese baseball so I am a bit insecure but the job I have to do is the same. I didn't play that much in the majors but I gained lots of experience in the minors and think I improved as a player," said Igawa.

Winner of the Sawamura Award and Central League MVP honor in 2003, Igawa has an 86-60 career record in Japan with a 3.15 ERA and 1,174 strikeouts in 190 games and 1,244 innings.

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