Japanese Baseball legend arrives in Indianapolis

Masumi Kuwata spent 20 years with the Yomiuri Giants in Tokyo, Japan

Masumi Kuwata spent the last 20 seasons with the Yomiuri Giants in Tokyo, Japan. (Bill Gentry)

By Matt Segal / IndyIndians.com | May 30, 2007 5:55 AM ET

INDIANAPOLIS -- Japanese Baseball legend Masumi Kuwata was added to the Indianapolis Indians roster on June 1.

Kuwata signed with the Pittsburgh organization as a Minor League free agent on Dec. 18, 2006. He posted a 4.05 ERA with no decisions in five Major League Spring Training appearances before suffering a right ankle sprain on March 26.

"I don't care if I go to the Minor Leagues," Kuwata said during Spring Training in Bradenton, Fla. "I hope to play in the Major Leagues, but the Minor Leagues are OK. This (playing in the U.S.) is a new experience for me. I love baseball, and I just really want to play."

Kuwata spent the last 20 seasons with the Yomiuri Giants in Tokyo, Japan. He turned in a 173-141 record and 3.46 ERA in 442 career outings. The right-hander, who logged over 2,700 innings, also fired 118 complete games and 21 shutouts.

The 39-year-old collected double-figure wins in six consecutive seasons (1987-92). He also tallied double-figure complete games in four straight campaigns (1989-92), and recorded 100+ strikeouts in eight consecutive years (1987-94).

From a numbers standpoint, Kuwata's best season was in 1989 when he registered career highs for victories (17) and complete games (20).

Kuwata was honored as the Central League's Most Valuable Player in 1994 after going 14-11 with a 2.52 ERA in 28 contests. He was also invited to eight Japanese Professional Baseball League All-Star Games.

Kuwata and his wife, Maki, have two children -- Masaki (14) and Masashi (12). He speaks Japanese, Spanish and English.

Over 40 members of the Japanese media greeted Kuwata at the Bradenton airport before Spring Training began. A similar number of Japanese reporters are expected to cover Kuwata's journey in Indianapolis.

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

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