12/15/11 7:30 PM EST
Orioles unveil newest southpaw Wada
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
"All right, Tsuyoshi," said Duquette, who sat on Wada's left in Thursday's introductory news conference. "Nice job there."
The O's, who signed Wada to a two-year deal with an option for 2014, are hoping Thursday won't be the only time the Japanese lefty wows a crowd. The 30-year-old Wada posted a 16-5 record with a 1.53 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 184 2/3 innings for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in 2011, and he was signed largely on account of pinpoint control that Duquette said makes up for a fastball velocity that lives in the 80s.
"If you take a look at his walk-to-strikeout ratio, it's 4-1," Duquette said of Wada, who was named MVP of Nippon (Japan) Professional Baseball in 2010. "That's an extraordinarily good ratio that reflects his capability not only to locate the ball, but to put the hitter away with his pitches."
Wada's win-loss record doesn't hurt either. Duquette -- who likened Wada's pitching style to former Orioles arm Scott McGregor -- mentioned several times that the lefty is a "winning pitcher" and stressed the importance of adding another veteran arm to go alongside Jeremy Guthrie.
"Certainly bringing in a world-class pitcher to our team from Japan is a signal that we are active out there," said Duquette, who has made expanding the organization's international efforts one of his primary objectives since taking over last month. "And we are also trying to address our need to add starting pitching. So we've done both of those with this move."
Wada, who pitched in the 2004 and '08 Olympic Games, eclipsed the 200-innings mark last season, and the theory is he will help anchor a youth-infused rotation that threw the fewest innings in the Majors last season. He will be the O's second Japanese-born player, following right-hander Koji Uehara, who was traded to Texas last season after 2 1/2 years in Baltimore.
Wada said he reached out to Uehara on Wednesday after making his decision and mentioned several times that playing in the U.S. has been his top priority over the last few years.
"I would like to thank you, Baltimore Orioles organization, to give me this opportunity," Wada said in his first official remarks. "I was dreaming to play Major League Baseball since I was a college [pitcher]. So this is a very special moment. I very [much] look forward to pitching at Camden Yards."
One of the biggest adjustments will be the rest period between starts. In Japan, pitchers throw every six days, instead of five, and Wada -- who will have his trainer and an interpreter with him next season -- will likely have to make some tweaks to his regimen. Another priority? Adjusting to the culture and adapting to his new team.
Asked why he chose Baltimore, Wada said: "I really felt that the Orioles were the first team to actually step up to make an offer and show the desire to have me in the organization. I really felt very appreciated."
The feeling was mutual on Thursday, as Duquette indicated the offseason upgrades are just getting started.
"In the words of the great Oriole manager Earl Weaver, we want to have deep depth," Duquette said, of the organization's quest to foster completion in the rotation next spring. "How many [starting-pitching candidates] would I like to have? I'd like to have as many good ones as we can get. But I think that Tsuyoshi is a very good addition to our ballclub because of his experience and capability to win games."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.