Dodgers Sign Takashi Saito

The Dodgers have signed right-handed relief pitcher Takashi Saito to a one-year contract according to Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti. "Takashi came on to be one of the key players in last year's success," said Colletti. "He stepped into a big role in the second half and handled it well. We're glad he's back."

Saito, 36, was signed to a minor league contract and invited to Spring Training last February after spending 14 seasons in the Japanese League where he was a four-time All-Star. Upon being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas on April 5, the right-hander proceeded to go 6-2 with a Dodger franchise rookie-record 24 saves in a team-leading 72 games. His 2.07 ERA ranked second to the Padres' Cla Meredith (1.07) among all National League hurlers with at least 50.0 innings pitched.

The native of Miyagi, Japan struck out 107 batters in just 78.1 innings pitched and led all National League relievers in opponent batting average with a .177 mark (minimum 200 batters faced), while right-handed hitters managed to go just 18-for-140 (.129) against the Japanese hurler. Saito's 24 saves in 26 opportunities gave him a 92.3 save percentage, which was third in the Major Leagues. He took over as the Dodger closer on May 15 and flourished, allowing just 12 earned runs in 58.1 innings for a 1.85 ERA over his final 53 outings.

In the National League Division Series against the New York Mets, Saito picked up right where he left off in the regular season, tossing 2.2 shutout innings without allowing a hit or a walk and fanning four batters. The Dodger relief ace tied for seventh in the National League Rookie of the Year vote after ranking among the NL Rookie leaders in saves (24, 1st), games (72, 2nd) and strikeouts (107, 6th).

Saito was the sixth Japanese player in Dodger history, joining Hideo Nomo, Kazuhisa Ishii, Masao Kida, Norihiro Nakamura and Dave Roberts, and became the 20th Japanese pitcher in the game's history to earn a victory in the Major Leagues.

The Dodger closer was active in the community as well, attending the grand opening of the Dodger Dream Field at Seoul International Park in Los Angeles' Koreatown as well as visiting with schoolchildren from Nishiyamato Academy in Lomita, a school primarily comprised of Japanese citizens who make their home in Los Angeles.

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