12/17/2009 4:39 PM ET
Mets sign RHP Ryota Igarashi
FLUSHING, N.Y., December 17, 2009 - The New York Mets today announced that they signed righthanded pitcher Ryota Igarashi to a two-year contract.
Igarashi, 30, was 47-29 with 54 saves and a 3.25 ERA in 507 games for the Yakult Swallows of the Japanese Central League from 1999-2009. He recorded 630 strikeouts in 570 innings for an average of 9.95 strikeouts per nine innings.
"We've had an interest in Ryota for two years," said Mets General Manager Omar Minaya. "He's got a power arm and an outstanding split-finger."
The 5-11, 190-pound hurler went 3-2 with three saves and a 3.19 ERA in 56 games last year. In 53.2 innings, he surrendered 42 hits, 19 runs, earned, with 20 walks and 44 strikeouts.
"I have known the Mets scout in Japan, Isao O'Jimi, since I was in high school," Igarashi said through an interpreter. "When I received the Mets offer there was no doubt in my mind that this was the team I wanted to go to and start my career in the United States. I am looking forward to playing in New York and pitching in the same bullpen as Francisco Rodriguez."
Igarashi rebounded from Tommy John surgery in 2007 to post a 3-2 record with a 2.47 ERA and three saves in 44 contests the following year. He recorded 42 strikeouts in 43.2 innings.
He established a career-best 37 saves in 2004 and won a career-high 11 games in 2000. Igarashi pitched in 60-or-more games from 2002-2004.
The Mets have had nine Japanese-born players appear in at least one game. The list includes: Takashi Kashiwada (1997), Hideo Nomo (1998), Masato Yoshii (1998-1999), Satoru Komiyama (2002), Tsuyoshi Shinjo (2001, 2003), Kazuhisa Ishii (2005), Shinjo Takatsu (2005), Kazuo Matsui (2004-2006) and Ken Takahashi (2009).