Mets give Japanese pitcher Iriki $750,000 deal

Updated: January 18, 2006, 8:03 PM ET
Associated Press

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.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press