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Yoshinori Tateyama

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Yoshinori Tateyama (建山 義紀)

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[edit] Biographical Information

Yoshinori Tateyama pitched for 11 seasons for the Nippon Ham Fighters then made his major league debut with the Texas Rangers in 2011.

In high school, Tateyama was his team's ace on a squad featuring Koji Uehara. He played for Matsushita Electric in the industrial leagues after college. The Nippon Ham Fighters took him in the second round of the 1998 draft. Debuting with the big club in 1999, he went 6-5 with a 2.89 ERA. Had he qualified, he would have ranked 5th in the Pacific League in ERA.

The right-hander fell to 6-8, 5.54 with a .298 opponent average in 2000 but still made his only PL All-Star team. He was bombed for 22 hits (5 homers), 9 walks and 17 runs in 14 1/3 IP in 2001, somehow winning his lone decision. Moved to the bullpen full-time in 2002, he had a big turn-around, going 3-2 with 4 saves, a 2.29 ERA and 0.90 WHIP.

Tateyama went 2-1 with 15 saves, a 2.17 ERA and 0.75 WHIP in 2003, walking only four in 37 1/3 IP. The sidearmer was third in the Pacific League in saves behind Kiyoshi Toyoda and Masahide Kobayashi. He lost his closing job to Yukiya Yokoyama in 2004 and went 1-3 with a 2.33 ERA, .220 average and .99 WHIP. He was named the PL Middle Reliever of the Year. In 45 games in 2005, the 29-year-old fell to 4-6 with two saves and a 3.68 ERA, walking only 8 in 51 1/3 IP.

Yoshinori went 3-3 with a 3.06 ERA in 2006. When the Fighters won their first Japan Series in 2006, Tateyama appeared in one outing, game four. He entered in the 6th, replacing Brad Thomas with a 3-0 lead, two on and one out. He retired Yoshinori Ueda then plunked Motonobu Tanishige. Kazuki Inoue hit a long drive to right that landed a foot foul, before Tateyama breathed a sigh of relief and struck him out. In the 7th, Tateyama walked Masahiro Araki and Hirokazu Ibata singled. Hideki Okajima relieved to face Kosuke Fukudome and Tyrone Woods, the Chunichi Dragons stars, and stopped the threat.

Moving back to the rotation for a year, Tateyama had a 2-4, 4.17 record and .217 opponent average in 2007 but was limited to 7 starts by a leg injury. He walked three and allowed 2 runs in 2 1/3 IP in the 2007 Japan Series, which Nippon Ham dropped to Chunichi. Healthy and in the bullpen once more, Yoshinori went 1-2 with two saves and a 3.07 ERA in 58 games in 2008.

Tateyama went 5-7 with a 3.78 ERA and .283 opponent average in 2009 while battling back problems. He gave up two runs in 1 1/3 IP in three outings in the 2009 Japan Series, which Nippon Ham lost to the Yomiuri Giants. In 2010, he had another productive year in middle relief, going 1-2 with 4 saves, a 1.80 ERA and .213 opponent average in 58 outings. In 438 games with Nippon Ham, he was 35-43 with 27 saves, a 3.43 ERA and 1.16 WHIP.

That off-season, Tateyama became a free agent. He signed with the Texas Rangers, who were looking for a veteran bullpen presence with youngsters Alexi Ogando and Neftali Feliz being considered as potential starting pitchers. He started the seaosn in the minor leagues, pitching 14 games with the Round Rock Express of the Pacific Coast League with a 2.14 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 21 innings. Called up to the Rangers, he made his debut on May 24, 2011, giving up a run in two-thirds of an inning against the Chicago White Sox. In his third game, he pitched three scoreless innings in a 10-1 win over the the Kansas City Royals, picking up his first career save.

Tateyama's repertoire includes a curveball, sinker, shuuto, slider and fastball (peak speed of 92 mph).

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