Baseball / MLB

Free agent Yoshihisa Hirano hoping to continue career in majors

Kyodo

Free agent right-hander Yoshihisa Hirano said Saturday he is seeking to continue his career in the majors.

The 35-year-old is still without a contract with only a month to go until spring training gets underway for most clubs in February. Hirano, who moved to the Arizona Diamondbacks ahead of the 2018 season from NPB’s Orix Buffaloes, became a free agent after completing his two-year contract at the end of October.

“Since I went there (to the majors), it is better for Orix if I played for many years,” Hirano told reporters in Kyoto, where he has been training. “I will do my best so I can stay (in the majors) for a long time.”

He said he has stayed fit by running and playing catch in Kyoto and will go to the United States at the end of this month in hopes of starting his third season in the majors with one of the 30 clubs.

The reliever pitched in 137 games during his two seasons with the Diamondbacks. But he struggled in his second season, going on the 10-day injured list in August due to inflammation in his right elbow.

“I’ve been in good shape, and I’m satisfied with the quality of my pitches,” he said. “My priority is not to get hurt. I want to throw in as many games as possible, with a goal of reaching 60 or 70.”

He started his career with the Buffaloes in 2006. He earned the most valuable middle reliever award in 2011 and led the league with 40 saves in 2014 before filing for international free agency in 2017. He was managed in Arizona by former Yakult Swallows infielder Torey Lovullo.

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