Tag: Hideki Okajima

Hideki Okajima: Latest News, Rumors and Speculation Surrounding Free-Agent P

Hideki Okajima was once a lockdown bullpen option for the Boston Red Sox, but he hasn’t appeared in a Major League Baseball game since 2013. The southpaw reportedly could be making a comeback after spending some time in Japan.

Continue for updates.

Okajima Wants to Return to United States

Monday, Dec. 7

Tom Caron of NESN noted Monday that agent Joe Rosen said Okajima would like to return stateside and pitch in the major leagues.    

The left-handed bullpen option last appeared in a regular-season game in 2013 with the Oakland Athletics, and he only pitched four innings and allowed a single earned run and seven hits that year. He was at his best as a member of the Boston Red Sox from 2007-11, although his numbers gradually became more concerning the longer he was in the league:

However, he was an All-Star in 2007 and helped Boston win the World Series. Joon Lee of SB Nation reflected on the reliever’s effectiveness at that time:

Okajima pitched in eight postseason games in 2007 and finished with a 2.45 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 11 strikeouts and then followed that up with eight more playoff appearances in 2008, where he posted a 1.80 ERA, 0.60 WHIP and five strikeouts in 10 innings. He was a rock at the back end of the Boston bullpen in his prime and often saved his best for when the games mattered most.

Still, he is 39 years old and has suffered through injuries and a downturn in production in America.

It’s not as if he was away from the game since 2013 considering he pitched in Japan, but it is difficult to envision a major league team offering much more than a minor league deal or a low-risk flier with the hope he can resurrect his form from 2007-08.

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MLB: How Horrific 8.9 Earthquake & Deadly Tsunami Are Effecting Japanese Players

It’s time we all take a breather from worrying about the sports themselves and focus on the players involved. This article is written with the intent of recognizing that there are bigger things that we should be focusing on at this time in the world rather than sports. On 3/11/2011 an unprecedented 8.9 earthquake rocked the country of Japan. It brought devastation, injuries, life loss and widespread panic but that was only the beginning.

After the earthquake hit, a gigantic 23 foot tsunami tore throw the coastal areas of Northeastern Japan. The waves pushed inland as much as six miles in certain spots devouring everything and anything in their way. We are reminded how strong the forces of nature that are out of our control truly are. If you are reading this article now, then please take a moment of silence to meditate on this tragic event and to pray to God for the safety of Japan and it’s people.

We hope the worst is now in the past but danger still looms as nuclear meltdown is the newest concern in Japan thanks to damage at three nuclear power plants inflicted by the mega-quake and powerful tsunami. You may be asking yourself, “How could this terrible, horrific event possibly tie into sports?”

In this gigantic melting pot known as the United States of America, the land of the free and home of the brave, we have taken in many Japanese athletes as our own and have grown to respect them in the process. We have looked up to them, we have cheered their names and now it’s time we reach out and send our condolences to them, their families and their friends. Our hopes and prayers are with you and we are thankful to have you all here competing in our nation. May God Bless America, God Bless Japan and God bless the whole world.

Here is a brief slideshow that points out all active major leaguers that come from Japan. Be sure to pray for all of Japan and it’s people but say a special prayer for these major leaguers and their families as they take time away from baseball to focus on this tragedy.

Begin Slideshow

Boston Red Sox Bring Back Hideki Okajima

When searching for a veteran left-handed reliever, Boston Red Sox GM Theo Epstein had two options. He could have spent $15 million on three years of Brian Fuentes or he could have brought back Hideki Okajima for one-year at a minimal salary.

Like when Indiana Jones was deciding which Grail would him eternal life in The Last Crusade, Epstein chose wisely.

After non-tendering Okajima a contract in December, the Red Sox brought him back on a one-year contract according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Yes, Fuentes is a better overall pitcher than Okajima, but paying a guy who is a good closer on a small market team $15 to $18 million over three years would have been ridiculous. I know the Red Sox are going all in this year, but that would have been just silly.

The Red Sox will hope that Okajima can reverse this four-year trend of going backward. Since bursting onto the scene in 2006, Okajima has seen his ERA increase each year, H/9 increase each year, WHIP increase each year, and his K/9 decrease each of the last three seasons.

Okajima really bottomed out by his standards in 2010 when he posted a 3.44 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, 6.5 K/9, and 3.9 BB/9 in 46 innings of work. He really struggled against right-handed batters as they crushed him to the tune of a .340/.396/.540 slash line. He didn’t fare much better against left-handed batters either as they hit him around to a .284/.357/.375 slash line.

With the addition of Bobby Jenks, Okajima will have a different role for the Red Sox in 2011 than he has had in years past. He won’t face as many right-handed batters as in years past and if Okajima can pitch to left-handed batters as well as his career line indicates in can (.214 batting average against), then he will have value to the Boston bullpen in 2011.

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Boston Red Sox and Hideki Okajima Close To Completing One-Year Deal

Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe is reporting that the Boston Red Sox are close to finalizing a one year deal that would bring the left-handed reliever back to Boston for one more year.

The Sox had formerly non-tendered Okajima earlier in the offseason. He was due a pay raise on the $2.75 million he earned in 2010, a figure which the Red Sox didn’t think he was worth.

Despite underwhelming stuff, Okajima had been one of the more dominant set-up men in baseball from 2007-09, before completely falling off the radar last season.

In 56 appearances, Okie lasted just 46.0 innings, with a 4.50 ERA and atrocious 1.72 WHIP. Left-handed batters hit .284/.357/.375/.732 off him in 99 plate appearances.

After struggling for more than four months last season, Okajima went on the disabled list on August 6 with hamstring and calf problems.

He missed about three weeks of action, but upon return, was his old dominant self. For whatever reason, Okajima completely figured things out following his stint on the DL.

In fifteen appearances in September and October, Okajima had just a 1.38 ERA and 1.00 WHIP through 13.0 innings of work. Batters hit just .200/.265/.267/.532 off him in 50 total plate appearances and he walked just four batters.

His complete turn-around following his time off, led to some speculation of whether or not Okajima was hiding injuries all season long, which explained his ineffectiveness.

Whatever the case, Okajima’s finish to 2010 at least earned him an opportunity to compete for a job in 2011. He’ll join the ranks of left-handers competing for a spot on the Red Sox bullpen in 2011, specifically Andrew Miller, Rich Hill, Andrew Miller and Felix Doubront.

While Okajima isn’t guaranteed a spot on the 2011 roster by any means, if he pitches in Spring Training the way he did to finish 2010, he’ll open the day in the Boston Red Sox pen.

It seems at this point that the Red Sox are content to start camp with a group of low-level lefties who will compete for a job, instead of finding a top-tier lefty via free agency like Brian Fuentes. The Red Sox are generally unwilling to give long term deals to relievers, so the addition of a top left-hander through free agency was unlikely anyways.

For more stories and news on Boston Sports, follow Dan on twitter at danhartelBR

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MLB Trade Rumors: Red Sox Eye Trevor Hoffman, Cast Wide Net For Pitching

Milwaukee Brewer Trevor Hoffman isn’t available at this year’s trade deadline, but that didn’t stop Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein from asking after the closer he first met while working for the San Diego Padres, according to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

Not remotely effective this season, Hoffman owns a 6.82 ERA over 33 innings and joins a nearly all-inclusive group of relievers that the Red Sox are pursuing in the final days leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline this Saturday.

Today, the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reviewed all the relievers the Red Sox have reportedly sought over the past month. The list includes Matt Capps, Scott Downs, Kyle Farnsworth, Mike Gonzalez, Sean Marshall, Will Ohman, Rafael Perez, Kerry Wood, Michael Wuertz, and former Red Sox David Aardsma and Craig Breslow.

True to his word, Epstein has been scouring rosters for available bullpen help. Despite injuries to outfielders, catchers, infielders and starters alike, the Red Sox might would be closer than seven games back in the American League East if they had an effective bullpen.

The 2010 Red Sox pen’s weaker components have blown 14 saves and allowed a Major League-worst 43 homers en route to a 4.42 ERA. This is frighteningly close to the Orioles’ 4.47 mark. Journeyman Scott Atchison (4.05 ERA), trade-candidate Ramon Ramirez (4.57 ERA), flame-thrower Manny Delcarmen (4.86 ERA), and southpaw Hideki Okajima (5.81 ERA) are the primary underperformers.

The Red Sox must make at least one move for a reliever before the deadline if they are to compete through August and into September. The next 48 hours could decide Boston’s 2010 fate.

If you’d like to kno w as soon as Peter’s Red Sox articles have posted, you can follow him on Twitter at BoSoxUpdate.

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