January 06, 2009 |

The Baltimore Sun is reporting that the Orioles have signed veteran Japanese pitcher Koji Uehara.  The 33 (turns 34 in April) year old right hander‘s contract with the Orioles is pending a physical and structural language to the contract.  He will be the first native of Japan to play for the Orioles

Uehara has spent his entire career with the Yomiuri Giants of the Nippon Baseball League.  Once considered one of the best pitchers in Japan, Uehara lately has gone back and forth between the bullpen and the rotation.  Last season he was even demoted to the minor leagues for a while.  He finished with a 6-5 record and an ERA of 3.81 in 26 games for the Giants last year.   

Although most scouts see him as a back of the rotation starter, he may well start the season in the Orioles’ No. 2 spot behind Jeremy Guthrie. In other words, don’t get overly excited; this isn’t Hideo Nomo.

This may not be an impact signing, but at long last the Orioles are making some inroads into Far East scouting; it was only a couple of years ago that former Orioles Vice President Syd Thrift made an embarrassing offer to Hideki Matsui.  I guess in this case, you have to walk before you can run; at least now they have a foot in the door of Asia.