Yasuhiko Yabuta

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Yasuhiko Yabuta

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Biographical Information[edit]

Yasuhiko Yabuta was a reliever in Japan and the major leagues. He played for the Kansas City Royals.

After high school, pitcher Yasuhiko Yabuta played in the industrial leagues for Shin Nittetsu Hirohata. He throws a fastball and slider. In 1995, he was picked in the second round of the NPB draft by the Chiba Lotte Marines. Debuting with the Marines the next year, Yabuta went 4-6 with a 3.62 with the only shutout in his first 10 seasons. In 1997, the right-hander had a 5-9, 3.94 sophomore season then slipped further the next few years to 2-9, 4.84 in '98 and 5-4, 4.89 in '99. He allowed 21 runs in 18 innings for Chiba Lotte in 2000 and 2002, presumably either injured or in ni-gun most of the year and in between went 4-6, 3.88 in 2001. 2003 yielded a 5.90 ERA and a 5-6 record. In '04, though, Yasuhiko went 3-4 with two saves and a 2.79 ERA in a Pacific League-leading 66 outings. He made his first All-Star team in 2005 and overall had a 7-4, 3.07 season with two saves. He pitched two scoreless innings in the 2005 Japan Series, fanning four in two appearances. Through 2005, his regular season line was 36-51, 4.26.

Yabuta was picked to play for Japan in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. In the classic, he pitched in four games for the champs, allowing two baserunners and one run in 4 1/3 IP, striking out five. In 2006, he was 4-2 with one save and a 2.62 ERA. Yabuta posted a 4-6, 2.44 record with 4 saves in 58 games in 2007. He tied Tadahiro Ogino for 4th in the Pacific League in games pitched.

A free agent after 2007, Yabuta drew some interest from MLB teams. He signed for two years and about $5 million with the Kansas City Royals. On March 28, 2008, near the end of spring training, he was hit by a line drive off his leg, suffering a contusion but not serious injury.

Yabuta made his MLB debut in a 6-4 loss to the Twins. He replaced Ron Mahay in the bottom of the 8th and pitched one scoreless inning. He retired Justin Morneau on a grounder and gave up a Delmon Young single. Jason Kubel then grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Sources: Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland, Sergei Borisov's 2006 NPB site), [http://www.worldbaseballclassic.com Worldbaseballclassic.com

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