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01/13/2009 11:42 AM ET
Orioles sign pitcher Koji Uehara to two-year contract
Right-hander becomes first Japanese-born player in club history
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The Orioles today announced that they have signed RHP KOJI UEHARA to a two-year contract. The right-hander is the first Japanese-born player in franchise history.

Uehara, 33, spent the past 10 seasons with the Japanese Central League's Yomiuri Giants, going 112-62 with a 3.01 ERA (1549.0IP, 518ER). He spent the majority of his Nippon Professional Baseball career as a starter, recording 56 complete games in 207 starting assignments. Uehara fanned 1,376 batters and walked only 206 in 276 career games for the Giants, a 6.68 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. No qualifying Major League Baseball pitcher has ever posted a better K/BB ratio. He also has a career average of 8.00 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, which would rank seventh among qualifying active MLB pitchers.

The list of awards Uehara received in his NPB career include Rookie of the Year honors in 1999 and the Sawamura Award, the NPB's equivalent of MLB's Cy Young Award, in 1999 & 2002. He was also a two-time Top Nine Award winner (1999 & 2002), given to the NPB's best all-around starting pitcher, and an eight-time All-Star (1999-2005, 2007).

Uehara has had success against international competition as well, posting a 2-0 record and a 1.59 ERA for the champion Japanese team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. He also represented Japan in the past two Olympic games, posting a save in two perfect innings as a closer in 2008 and going 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA to help Japan win the Bronze medal in 2004.

Uehara's name is pronounced "oo - eh -- ara."
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