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Redbirds Sign Swedish Pitcher
04/01/2011 10:52 AM ET

MEMPHIS, TN - This morning a 7'2" pitcher from Sweden, Sloof Lirpa, signed a season-long contract with the Memphis Redbirds.

The 24-year-old pitched four perfect games while playing in the Sverige Baseball League, leading the league in strikeouts, innings pitched and maintaining an ERA under 1.00 all of last year.

With a 104 mph reverse curveball, the 'Birds are confident that Lirpa will be an excellent addition to the already exceptional starting rotation. Although he has blatantly quirky pre-game rituals, including approaching the mound walking backwards and reciting the Swedish alphabet backwards, Pitching Coach Blaise Ilsley is confident his performance will overshadow the different methods he takes to prepare for the game.

"When I first heard him recite his alphabet backwards, it really caught me off guard." Ilsley explained, "As long as he is ready to pitch when we need him, I see no problem in the way Lirpa gets ready the way he does. I've only seen him pitch a couple times, but I can definitely say (the Redbirds) are lucky to have him joining the squad this year."

The Swedish left-handed hurler informed the team that his so-called 'unusual preparation' for games was a tradition passed down to him from his father and grandfather.

"He has a backwards way about him...I don't really know how to describe it." said Manager Chris Maloney, "But I believe he will be a great asset to our team, I'm excited to see how he performs Opening Day."

Fans can get their first glimpse of Sloof Lirpa Thursday, April 7th on Opening Day when the Memphis Redbirds take on the Oklahoma City RedHawks at 7:05 p.m. Single game tickets to all 72 Redbirds home games are now on sale at the AutoZone Park Box Office, online at or you can purchase them by calling 901.721.6000.

Attached is a photo of Sloof Lirpa with Assistant General Manager Derek Goldfarb after the signing of Lirpa's contract.

Also, the Memphis Redbirds would like to wish everyone a Happy April Fool's Day!

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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.