Arlington, Texas - The Texas Rangers announced today that the club has signed free agent right-handed pitcher Yoshinori Tateyama to a one-year major league contract with two club options. A Japanese veteran, he will be looking to pitch in the U.S. for the first time.
Tateyama, who will turn 35 on December 26, posted a career-low 1.80 ERA (11 ER/55.0 IP) in 58 games for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in the Japanese Pacific League in 2010, going 1-2 with 4 saves and 25 holds. The side-armer held opposing batters to a .213 (43-202) average with 11 walks and 59 strikeouts, allowing just 3 home runs. Opposing right-handers hit just .186 (26-140). The Ham Fighters were 41-14-3 in his 58 appearances in 2010.
He has spent his entire career with Hokkaido (1999-2010), which plays its home games in Sapporo, the northern-most location for any Japanese club. Primarily a reliever throughout his career, he has compiled a 3.43 ERA (252 ER/661.2 IP) in 438 appearances. He has averaged just 2.12 walks-per-9-innings in his career in Japan.
He was a member of Hokkaido's 2006 championship club and has been teammates with right-hander Yu Darvish, who pitched for Japan in the 2008 Olympics and 2009 World Baseball Classic. This past season, he was teammates with former big leaguer Bobby Keppel.
The Osaka native is seeking to become just the fourth Japanese player ever to appear in a major league game with the Rangers. The others, all right-handed pitchers, were Hideki Irabu (2002), Akinori Otsuka (2006-07), and Kazuo Fukumori (2008).