Hideo Nomo agrees to minor league contract with Kansas City Royals Print
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Friday, 04 January 2008 09:08
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 KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -Hideo Nomo is getting another shot at pitching in America.
The Japanese right-hander agreed to a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals and was invited to spring training next month. The 39-year-old hasn't pitched in the majors since 2005 and made seven starts in the Venezuelan Winter League in 2006.
``He's been a successful major league pitcher in the past, and we wanted to give him an opportunity to compete for a job,'' Royals general manager Dayton Moore said Friday. ``Any player we bring into major league camp, we feel can compete for a job, and he's going to get a chance.''
Nomo, who's had a history of shoulder problems, could fill a spot in the rotation or as a reliever. An added benefit would be mentoring Yasuhiko Yabuta.
New Royals manager Trey Hillman spent the past five seasons managing the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan and helped lure Yabuta to Kansas City. The 34-year-old right-hander agreed to a $6 million, two-year contract in November and is expected to compete for a spot as the Royals' primary setup man.
``Obviously, it will be good with Yasuhiko Yabuta here,'' Moore said. ``Hideo has a lot of experience and can help guide him along and serve as a role model.''
Nomo wasn't the first Japanese player in the majors; Masanori Murakami pitched for the San Francisco Giants in 1964-65. But Nomo clearly had the biggest effect, leading an influx of Japanese pitchers who came across the Pacific over the next few years, including Shigetoshi Hasega, Hideki Irabu and Tomokazu Ohka.
The migration of Japanese players continued over the years, with stars like Hideki Matsui, Ichiro Suzuki and Daisuke Matsuzaka leaving their homeland to make names for themselves in the United States as well.
Nomo's success provided the inspiration.
With a somewhat quirky delivery, the former Kintetsu Buffaloes ace made a big impression when arrived in the United States in 1995, going 13-6 with a 2.54 ERA with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was picked for the All-Star game and was voted NL Rookie of the Year.
He pitched the first - and still only - no-hitter in the history of Colorado's Coors Field in 1996, and threw another no-hitter against Baltimore while pitching for Boston in 2001.
Nomo was traded to the New York Mets in 1998 and moved on to Milwaukee, Detroit and Boston before returning to the Dodgers, where he went 32-19 from 2002-03. He went 4-11 with an 8.25 ERA in 18 starts with Los Angeles in 2004 before undergoing shoulder surgery, then returned in 2005 with Tampa Bay, going 5-8 in 19 starts.
Nomo is 123-109 with a 4.21 ERA in 320 career appearances.
``I want to hang in there no matter what, hoping that I won't get injured,'' Nomo said Friday on his Web site.
 

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