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Mets give Japanese pitcher Iriki $750,000 deal

1/18/2006 - MLB New York Mets

NEW YORK -- The Mets and Japanese right-hander Yusaku Iriki
agreed to a $750,000, one-year contract on Wednesday as New York
attempts to add pitching before spring training.

The 33-year-old Iriki was 6-7 with a 3.35 ERA in 20 starts and
eight relief appearances last season with the Nippon Ham Fighters
in Japan's Pacific League, finishing ninth in the league in ERA and
10th with 122 strikeouts. His contract includes a pair of club
options.

"He has the ability to start and also the ability to pitch in
the bullpen," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said. "I just felt
bringing him on board gives us a little more depth."

Iriki was posted during the offseason under the agreement
between the major league commissioner's office and Japan's
commissioner's office, but there were no bidders. He said he had
the option of re-signing with the Fighters, who are managed by Trey
Hillman.

Minaya said Iriki has a fastball that tops out at 90-93 mph, and
also throws a curveball, slider, changeup and shuto -- a two-seam
pitch that breaks outside and down to right-handed batters and was
used by Masato Yoshii with the Mets.

"It was my dream to pitch for a major league team," Iriki, in
New York for the first time, said through a translator. "I'm so
happy right now that I could just go outside and pitch right now."

Iriki went 35-35 with three saves and a 3.73 ERA during eight
seasons with the Yomiuri Giants and Nippon Ham. He was 13-4 with
one save and a 3.71 ERA in 21 starts and six relief appearances for
Yomiuri in 2001.