By Tom Haudricourt
January 29, 2002
It won’t have the impact of Seattle’s signing of Ichiro Suzuki last year or Los Angeles’ courtship of Kazuhisa Ishii this winter but the Milwaukee Brewers decided to dabble in the Japanese League.
The Brewers reached an agreement with relief pitcher Takaki Nomura, a 33-year-old lefty who spent 10 years in the Japanese League, including the last four with the Yomiuri Giants. Nomura agreed to a one-year, $600,000 contract with a club option for 2003.
Nomura worked 40 games for Yomiuri last season, going 2-1 with a 4.62 earned run average. In 37 innings, he allowed 47 hits, including four home runs, walked 12 and struck out 34. He was paid a salary of $525,000.
In 338 lifetime appearances with Yomiuri and the Orix Blue Wave, with whom he played from 1992 until he was traded to Yomiuri in 1998, Nomura compiled a 24-22 record with 39 saves and a 3.11 ERA. In 426 innings, he allowed 378 hits and 164 walks while logging 473 strikeouts.
“Nomura will provide needed lefthanded depth in the bullpen, which is something we have been lacking,” Brewers general manager Dean Taylor said. “David Wilder and two of our scouts saw him in a workout and were very impressed with his ability and pitch repertoire.”
For most of the 2001 season, the Brewers had only one lefty in their bullpen, workhorse Ray King, who ranked among the league leaders with 82 appearances. Valerio De Los Santos, who blew out his elbow in the first week of the season and had reconstructive surgery, is expected back sometime this season.
Also, to make room for Nomura on the Brewers 40-man roster, the club has designated pitcher Allen Levrault for assignment.
Last season, Levrault was 6-10 with a 6.06 ERA in 32 games, 20 starts for the Brewers.
If Nomura makes the Brewers’ roster, he would be the third Japanese-born pitcher to play in Milwaukee. The others were Hideo Nomo, who rejuvenated his career with the Brewers in 1999, and Mac Suzuki, who was with the Brewers for a couple of months last season and is now with Kansas City.