Japanese left-hander Igawa tours Yankee Stadium

Updated: December 20, 2006, 7:27 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Japanese left-hander Kei Igawa is still waiting to sign a contract with the New York Yankees.

Yet judging by the smile and the Yankees jacket he wore Wednesday after an hour-long meeting with general manager Brian Cashman, that should come soon.

"The deal is not done, but it will be nice if we can do it," Igawa said through a translator.

Igawa and the Yankees have agreed in principle on a five-year, $20 million contract. Igawa and agent Arn Tellem, expected to arrive in New York late Wednesday, are still working on the year-to-year breakdown of the pitcher's salary and performance bonuses.

The 27-year-old Igawa is scheduled to take a physical Thursday. He arrived in New York early Wednesday and spent much of the day looking around New York, including a tour of Yankee Stadium.

"My impression about New York was that there would be a lot of people walking," he said. "But I was surprised there were a lot of cars."

Temperatures in the low 40s probably had something to do with keeping people off the streets, but that didn't stop almost 40 Japanese reporters from huddling outside Yankee Stadium for 90 minutes to catch Igawa after his visit.

New York and Igawa have until Dec. 28 to finalize an agreement. The Yankees bid $26,000,194 for Igawa, who went 14-9 last season with a 2.97 ERA and 194 strikeouts for the Hanshin Tigers.

The Yankees must pay the fee to the Tigers within five business days after completing a contract.

Igawa is scheduled to fly back to Japan on Saturday. Even if the deal is completed before then, the Yankees aren't expected to make a formal introduction of their newest Japanese player -- they also have outfielder Hideki Matsui -- until January.

Pitcher Andy Pettitte, who had a physical in New York on Tuesday as part of finalizing his contract to return to the Yankees, traveled back to Houston for a family matter. The Yankees will introduce him by conference call on Thursday.

Pettitte comes back to the Yankees after three seasons with his hometown Astros. He will earn $16 million next year and holds a $16 million player option for 2008.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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