Igarashi thinks he can be setup man

Updated: December 21, 2009, 2:45 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Ryota Igarashi thinks the New York Mets have a good chance at success next season.

The Japanese reliever, who agreed last week to a $3 million, two-year contract, decided to join the Mets because he wanted to be with a winner.

"I've been looking for a team to proceed to the World Series," he said Monday during a conference call from Arizona. "The Mets have been very high regarded, especially with my teammates here. Some of them have had experience with the Mets, prior to this."

He cited Kazuhisa Ishii and Shingo Takatsu, who played for the Mets in 2005 and pitched alongside Igarashi on the Central League's Yakult Swallows.

Other Japanese players on the Mets have included pitchers Takashi Kashiwada (1997), Hideo Nomo (1998), Masato Yoshii (1998-99), Satoru Komiyama (2002) and Ken Takahashi (2009); second baseman Kaz Matsui (2004-05); and outfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo (2001, '03).

"There's no doubt that the Mets are definitely an easier team to join, obviously, because of the Japanese players prior to myself," Igarashi said.

The 30-year-old right-hander is the first major addition to the Mets since their 70-92 fourth-place finish in the NL East. He think he can be a setup man for Francisco Rodriguez.

"There is obviously no guarantee from our conversations with the Mets, of course, but there have been talks of being a setup man, filling that role from the seventh inning or the eighth inning," he said through a translator.

Igarashi went 3-2 with a 3.19 ERA and three saves in 56 games last season, striking out 44 and walking 20 in 53 2/3 innings. He joins a bullpen that includes right-handers Brian Stokes and Sean Green and left-hander Pedro Feliciano.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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