Tuffy Rhodes put on his Yomiuri Giants uniform for the first time when he and Brian Sikorski were introduced as the Central League club’s new off-season foreign acquisitions at a news conference Friday.
“I’m honored to play for the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants and I’m going to do my best. I’m not here for personal stats but I’m here to win the championship. I’m getting older and time is running out,” the 35-year-old Rhodes said.
“This is an incredible team and it’s just like playing for the New York Yankees in America. It’s my first year, so I’m going to learn just like everybody else and take it one day at a time,” he said.
In late December, Rhodes inked a two-year deal with the Giants carrying an annual salary of $5 million (540 million yen) after breakdowns in talks for a multiyear deal with the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes, for whom he played for eight years from 1996.
“If I had any doubts I wouldn’t be sitting here today. As long as I get to play everyday, it doesn’t matter where I bat in the lineup,” he said when asked about the roster full of sluggers.
Rhodes won three home-run titles and two RBI titles in the Pacific League and is the co-holder of the Japanese single-season home-run record of 55.
His career record includes a .289 average and 288 homers — an all-time high for foreign players in Japan — in 1,081 games.
Meanwhile, Sikorski, 29, is coming off a stint with the Chiba Lotte Marines, whom he served mainly as a reliever for the past three seasons. He has a 9-16 record with three saves and a 3.90 ERA in 106 games in Japan.
“It’s great coming to one of the most storied franchise in the game of baseball. I can’t wait to get on the field and help this team win,” Sikorski said.
Rhodes and Sikorski will report to Miyazaki for spring training with the rest of the top team Monday.
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