Zrebiec: Koji and friend?
The Orioles met with the agents of Japanese pitcher Hisanori Takahashi at last week’s winter meetings, but it’s too early to tell how serious their interest is. I don’t know too much about Takahashi, though two things about the pitcher should certainly pique the Orioles’ interest:
1. He is a close friend of current Oriole pitcher Koji Uehara and former teammate of his with the Yomiuri Giants.
2. He is left-handed.
With his own masseuse and interpreter, Uehara certainly has a solid support staff in place in Baltimore. However, it couldn’t hurt to add somebody else that he’s close to, especially if that somebody can get left-handed hitters out. Like Uehara last offseason, Takahashi would prefer a shot to start somewhere. The Orioles and international scouting director John Stockstill see him more as a left-handed swingman type, sort of in the Mark Hendrickson mold.
Either way, I think the Orioles will wait a couple of weeks and see what other moves they make, including potentially re-signing Hendrickson. If Takahashi is still out there by mid-January and they could get him maybe even on a minor league deal, it would probably be worth the gamble.
Stockstill, by the way, is in Houston, where he will watch Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman throw a bullpen session today. I still would be utterly shocked if the Orioles sign Chapman, who already has an offer in hand from the Boston Red Sox according to ESPN The Magazine’s Jorge Arangure Jr.
- Jeff Zrebiec