The Next Closer? Dbacks introduce Yoshi Hirano

The bulk of the Diamondbacks’ offseason moves have revolved around the bullpen. Fernando Rodney is off to Minnesota and the Diamondbacks have brought in former closers Brad Boxberger and Neftali Feliz. They also signed Japanese pitcher Yoshihisa Hirano in December.

Monday, the team introduced the right-handed pitcher. 

The 6-foot-1 Hiarno spent the last eight seasons as the closer for the Orix Buffaloes. Last year, he appared in 58 games with 29 saves and a 2.67 ERA and 47 strikeouts. He also participated in last year’s World Baseball Classic for Team Japan.

“I have been a closer in Japan, so ultimately, hopefully that would be my goal,” Hirano said through an interpreter. “But I’m willing to pitch in any situation that (manager Torey Lovullo) tells me to.”

The 33-year-old pitcher, who signed a two-year deal with the Diamondbacks, was an established player in Japan and feels he can have a long career in America.

“I’m actually not conscious about my age,” Hirano said through an interpreter. “There’s been pitchers from Japan that have jumped over to the big leagues at my age, and some of these guys are pitching well into their 40s. I still don’t feel that I’m on the downside of my career. Hopefully I can continue the success I had in Japan.”

The Diamondbacks director of Pacific Rim operations Mack Hayashi evaluated Hirano when in Japan and thinks his skill set could help him translate to Major League Baseball.

“His out pitch is a (split-finger fastball) and historically a lot of the pitchers that have succeeded here in the big leagues had that split as an out pitch,” Hayashi said. “So I’ve seen that for a long, long time. He’s got some fastball (velocity) as well, hopefully it translates.”

Diamondbacks pitchers and catchers report on Wednesday.

Mixing his passions for sports and storytelling, Jordan comes to Sports360az as a multimedia reporter/producer looking to share the best stories Arizona has to offer. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @JordyHamm