|Royals sign Nomo to minor league contract that includes invite to spring training|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 04 January 2008 09:08|
The trailblazing Japanese right-hander signed a minor league deal with the Kansas City Royals that includes an invitation 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.
``Hideo is a solid veteran presence who we will give an opportunity to earn a job coming out of spring training,'' Royals general manager Dayton Moore said in a statement on Friday.
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 impact, 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 splash when arrived in the United States in 1995, going 13-6 with a 2.54 ERA with the Los Angeles Dodgers, earning him a spot on the All Star team and the National League rookie of the year award.
He pitched the first - and still only - no-hitter in the history of Colorado's Coors Field in 1996, and tossed another no-hitter against Baltimore while pitching for Boston.
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, who is 123-109 with a 4.21 ERA in 320 career appearances, will be joined in spring training by fellow Japanese pitcher Yasuhiko Yabuta, who recently signed with the Royals. Kansas City's new manager, Trey Hillman, spent the past five seasons managing the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan.
``I want to hang in there no matter what, hoping that I won't get injured,'' Nomo said Friday on his official Web site.