Koji Uehara Signs With O’s

koji-uehara The Orioles have signed 33 year old starting pitcher Koji Uehara, of the Yomiuri Giants. As a rookie in 1999 he was the leader in wins (20), strikeouts (179), ERA (2.09), winning percentage (.833, 20-4 record), complete games (12), and was named Rookie of the Year. Koji was the Sawamura Award (named after legendary Yomiuri Giants pitcher Eiji Sawamura of the 1930s & 40s) winner in 1999 & 2002, best starting pitcher in Japan. Due to an injury in 2007 Uehara pitched as a closer, saving 32 games, with a 1.74 ERA. He returned to the starting rotation in 2008.

Koji has enjoyed alot of international success with a 12-0 record and 2 saves, appearing in the Olympic Games (twice), the World Baseball Classic, as well as the Asian Baseball Championships. He was the winning pitcher against Cuba in the championship game of the WBC, and led the tournament with 16 strikeouts. In 1998 Uehara rejected a $3 million dollar offer to sign with the Angels on the advice of friends and acquaintances, and instead signed with Yomiuri. Although he had his struggles in 2008, he is a durable pitcher, and it should be interesting to see how he fares with the Orioles.

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