Next Stop for Irabu: Japan
Looks like Hideki Irabu is planning on hanging around beyond this season. According to Sponichi, the big righty is looking to continue his comeback in Japan and could join an independent league team as soon as September, after his Golden League season is over.
Irabu has put up a seemingly respectable 3.87 era in eight Golden League starts, and shown a fastball that has reportedly reached about 93mph with a hard forkball. Word is that his right knee, which caused him to retire in the first place, also isn’t bothering him.
Irabu’s agent, Don Nomura, has reached out to NPB teams including Irabu’s former teams Lotte and Hanshin, and Nomura’s stepfather’s Rakuten. An anonymous representive from an un-named team was quoted as saying “he wasn’t a match for the points we need to improve, but I felt his drive”. NPB has a player acquisition deadline of July 31, which essentially closes the door on him playing with an NPB club this season.
It’s interesting to see Nomura in the news again. Nomura has faded out of the spotlight in recent years, but he was once a Scott Boras-like figure who played a central role in bringing Irabu, Hideo Nomo, and Alfonso Soriano to MLB.