Japanese veteran Tateyama joining Texas Rangers

Posted Nov. 30, 2010, at 7:15 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 30, 2010, at 7:38 p.m.

ARLINGTON, Texas — Japanese free-agent pitcher Yoshinori Tateyama agreed Tuesday to a one-year contract with the AL champion Texas Rangers that includes club options for two additional seasons.

Tateyama, a sidearm thrower who turns 35 on Dec. 26, will be pitching in the United States for the first time.

General manager Jon Daniels said Tateyama, who will be on the 40-man roster, will get a split contract. That means the pitcher will be paid differently depending on if he is in the majors or minor leagues.

“We have a good feel for what he is, a quality relief pitcher who can throw the ball over the plate,” Daniels said. “He will have a chance to win a spot in the bullpen and help us during the season. … Let’s not make it any more or less than that.”

Daniels said there were other teams interested in Tateyama, which is why he is getting a guaranteed contract for next season.

“We felt it was worthwhile,” he said.

Tateyama has spent his entire career (1999-10) with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan’s Pacific League. Primarily a reliever, he has a 3.43 ERA in 438 appearances.

In 58 games last season, Tateyama had a career-low 1.80 ERA. He was 1-2 with four saves and held opposing hitters to a .213 average. He struck out 59 and walked 11.

Daniels said Tateyama was recommended by the same group of scouts that last winter advised the return of Colby Lewis, the 1999 Rangers draft pick who had pitched in Japan the previous two seasons.

“He turned out to be a pretty good acquisition,” Daniels said. “When these guys speak up, I tend to listen.”

Lewis was 12-13 with a 3.72 in 32 regular-season starts, then went 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four postseason starts for the Rangers.

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