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BASEBALL EXTRA | AROUND THE LEAGUE

Yankees, Irabu Agree to Terms

May 30, 1997|Associated Press

The talking is over. Now Hideki Irabu finally will get his wish--to pitch for the New York Yankees.

The 27-year-old right-hander agreed to terms Thursday, getting the richest deal ever given a major league rookie, a $12.8-million, four-year contract. Irabu will appear at Yankee Stadium today to formally join the team.

"It could open up the whole Asian market to the Yankees," New York pitcher David Cone said in Toronto after beating the Blue Jays, 4-0. "And we certainly need the fans, not to mention the pitching depth it gives us."

Irabu and his agent, Don Nomura, spent part of Thursday with the players' union, working out details.

Irabu, who has 59-59 career record in Japan's Pacific League with 1,111 strikeouts in 1,102 2/3 innings, probably will be assigned to the minors for a week to a month. Depending on when injured Dwight Gooden is ready to return, Irabu could replace Gooden or Kenny Rogers in the starting rotation.

"They say he's the Nolan Ryan of Japan," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "I guess we'll find out when he gets here if he's worth it."

Irabu gets an $8.5-million signing bonus to be paid over three years, $200,000 this season, $800,000 in 1998, $1 million in 1999 and $2 million in 2000. The Yankees have a $4-million option for 2001 with a $300,000 buyout.

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Toronto's Juan Guzman was put on the 15-day disabled list after breaking his right thumb in Wednesday night's game against the New York Yankees. Guzman was hit on the right hand by a ball off the bat of Bernie Williams. Guzman's thumb also was slightly dislocated.

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