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Japanese left-hander Igawa tours Yankee Stadium

12/20/2006 - MLB New York Yankees

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.