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12/05/08 11:44 AM EST
Tribe inks Ohka to Minor League deal
Veteran starter's contract includes Spring Training invitation
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Don't file it in the high-profile bin, but the Indians have signed a pitcher. The pitcher in question is right-hander Tomo Ohka, a veteran of nine Major League seasons who has been signed to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Ohka, likely bound for Triple-A Columbus, is the third player to sign such a deal with the Indians this winter, joining catcher Damaso Espino and infielder Andy Cannizaro. Ohka, 32, hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2007. The White Sox signed him to a Minor League deal last year, and he went 5-11 with a 4.18 ERA in 28 appearances for the Triple-A Charlotte Knights, including 20 starts. He struck out 112 and walked 35 in 135 2/3 innings, and he served up 23 homers. When last we saw Ohka pitching in the Majors, it was with the Blue Jays. He went 2-5 with a 5.79 ERA in 10 starts in 2007, before he was designated for assignment that June. Ohka came to the Majors from Japan when the Red Sox purchased his contract from the Yokohama Bay Stars before the 1999 season. He had two and a half unremarkable seasons in Boston until he was dealt to the Expos, along with current Tribe left-hander Rich Rundles, as part of the 2001 trade that sent Ugueth Urbina to Boston. Ohka posted 13 wins in '02 and 10 in '03, and he had his right forearm broken by a line drive in '04. He was dealt to the Brewers in '05 and became a free agent after the '06 season. Over his big league career, Ohka is 50-63 with a 4.14 ERA in 184 appearances, including 172 starts.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.