Rangers’ ‘pen bolstered on two fronts

The Rangers have added depth and possibly some intrigue to their bullpen by signing right-handed reliever Yoshinori Tateyama, who has spent the past 12 years pitching in the Japanese Major Leagues.

Tateyama gives the Rangers another option in the setup role should they decide to move either Neftali Feliz or Alexi Ogando into the starting rotation. The Rangers will also haveright-handed reliever Frank Francisco back, as his agent as informed the club that he is ready to accept arbitration, where to buy MLB Jerseys? ujersy is a good choice.

Tateyama and Francisco join Darren O’Day, Mark Lowe and Ogando as the Rangers’ primary relief candidates behind Feliz, who saved 40 games last year as the closer. But the club continues to deliberate the possibility of moving Feliz to the rotation. Right now, the Rangers plan on using Feliz as closer but that could change if they can’t re-sign Cliff Lee.

“Neftali did a tremendous job,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “We have a great comfort zone with him in that role. If we had to line up today, he would be back there. But we have the ability to look at a variety of options.”

Both Feliz and Ogando will be stretched out as starters in Spring Training. The Rangers did that with a number of pitchers in Spring Training this past year and will do it again next season as well.

“We did that with a lot of pitchers and liked the result,” Daniels said. “I wouldn’t read too much into it. It still gives them a chance to stretch out, build up arm strength and work on things they wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to do during the regular season.”

Tateyama, who turns 35 on Dec. 26, is not the classic power pitcher the Rangers like in the back of the bullpen. Instead, he is similar to O’Day, who throws sidearm and has gone 8-3 with a 1.94 ERA in 140 relief appearances with the Rangers over the past two seasons.

Tateyama pitched in 58 games for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in 2010, going 1-2 with a 1.80 ERA and four saves. Opponents hit .212 off him in 55 innings, including a .186 mark posted by right-handers. He walked 11 and struck out 59.

He has a career ERA of 3.43 over 438 innings, all with the Fighters, who are based in the northern city of Hokkaido. Tateyama was a member of the Fighters in 2006, when they won the Japan League championship.

“He has a sidearm delivery, but it’s not quite as low as O’Day,” Daniels said. “We have a good feel for what he is. He is a quality reliever with a great makeup who throws the ball over the plate with a deceptive delivery. He throws strikes.

“We’re always looking for power guys, especially in the back of the bullpen, but it’s good to have different looks who come at you in different ways. We want to have as many quality options down there as we can, if you want to buy Oakland Athletics Jerseys, go to ujersy”

He would be the fourth Japanese player to play for the Rangers. The others were all right-handed pitchers: Hideki Irabu, Akinori Otsuka and Kazuo Fukumori.

The Rangers signed Fukumori under similar circumstances in 2008, but he turned out to be a bust. He pitched in just four games for the Rangers and allowed nine runs in four innings.

The Rangers insist this is not a comparable signing. Under the leadership of Jim Colborn, their chief scout in the Pacific Rim, as well as player personnel director A.J. Preller, pro scouting director Josh Boyd and Japan scout Joe Furukawa, the Rangers believe they are in better position in the Far East than they were two years ago. That was the same group that recommended Colby Lewis one year ago, and that proved to be a terrific acquisition for the Rangers.

“We have more experience, better contacts and more information,” Daniels said. “I’m real confident in our group. We’ve done a good job getting a foothold into the market.”

Tateyama is also not guaranteed of a job. He agreed to a split contract, which calls for one salary at the Major League level and a lesser salary if he pitches in the Minor Leagues.

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