From the Baltimore Sun: Pitcher Koji Uehara has passed a physical and finalized a two-year, $10 million incentive-laden deal with the Orioles that will make him the first Japan native to play for the club.
Uehara, a 33-year-old right-hander who was an eight-time All-Star in Japan, will be introduced as an Oriole tomorrow at a noon news conference at the Warehouse. From all indications during the past couple of days, it could be one of the most well-attended introductory news conferences for a player in team history.
There were 25 Japanese reporters who awaited Uehara’s arrival at Dulles International Airport on Sunday. Several Japanese television crews waited outside of the Warehouse Monday, hoping to catch a glimpse of the pitcher, who spent his entire career with the Yomiuri Giants, Japan’s version of the New York Yankees. Uehara spent much of Monday away from Camden Yards, taking his physical.
At this point of the offseason, Uehara (pronounced “oo-eh-ara”) is penciled in as the Orioles’ No. 2 starter, behind right-hander Jeremy Guthrie. However, Orioles president Andy MacPhail is still hoping to add a starter before pitchers and catchers report next month.
Whatever happens in Uehara’s tenure in Baltimore, it has now opened up the East to the Orioles, and I’m sure there might be endless scouting and marketing opportunities to the part of the world that’s hungry for baseball.