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Arizona Diamondbacks sign Japanese star Yoshihisa Hirano

Arizona Diamondbacks sign Japanese star Yoshihisa Hirano
Posted at 1:04 PM, Dec 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-22 18:58:05-05

The Arizona Diamondbacks have signed star Japanese pitcher Yoshihisa Hirano to a two-year contract, the team announced Friday.

The 33-year-old Hirano has played for the Orix Buffaloes of the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan since 2006 and has worked as a closing pitcher since 2013. He has a 2.30 ERA with 564 strikeouts in 476 games pitched since 2010. He recorded 40 saves in 2014 and was named the league's Most Valuable Middle Reliever in 2011.

In a statement, D-backs general manager Mike Hazen said the team has scouted Hirano for years and the D-backs are "excited to add a reliever of his quality and with his experience to our bullpen."

Hirano said in a statement that he is "honored" to sign with the D-backs.

"They have welcomed me and my family with open arms and made us feel at home already, which is the reason I chose to sign here," he said. "My family is looking forward to starting our new life together in Arizona.

"I believe the D-backs are a team that can win a championship, and I hope I can help them achieve that goal."

Hirano and is wife AI have a young son and daughter together. The D-backs said the Hirano family plans to move to the greater Phoenix area.

Hirano will be the D-backs' second-ever Major League player of Japanese descent (along with Takashi Saito in 2012) and the third player born in Japan to play for the team (Saito and Stephen Randolph).