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Hirano targeting Diamondbacks' closer role

From ESPN - February 12, 2018

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Yoshihisa Hirano is not one for formalities.

"Please call me Yoshi," the new Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher said Monday to open his introductory news conference.

The 33-year-old right-hander agreed in December to a $6 million, two-year contract with the Diamondbacks after 12 seasons with Orix of Japan's Pacific League.

With his wife and two young children joining him, Hirano said he hopes the entire family will learn English.

"The D-backs were the first team that made me an offer," Hirano said through an interpreter. "When me and my family came over to visit Arizona in December, general manager Mike Hazen and field manager Torey Lovullo were there, greeted me and my family very warmly and made my family feel like home now already, and that was the reason I chose the Diamondbacks."

Arizona won 93 games and a National League wild-card berth last season, then was swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the division series. The Diamondbacks have tried to improve their bullpen in the offseason, and Hirano is in the competition to replace departed closer Fernando Rodney. Brad Boxberger also is a possibility, and some would like to see the role go to Archie Bradley, who was 3-3 with a 1.73 ERA and 240 strikeouts in 250 1/3 innings last season, his first full year in the bullpen.

Hirano pitched out of the bullpen the past eight seasons, with a league-leading 41 saves in 2014. Since 2010, he appeared in 476 games, going 30-33 with 156 saves and a 2.30 ERA with 564 strikeouts, an average of 9.83 strikeouts per nine innings. Last year, he appeared in 58 games, going 3-7 with 29 saves, a 2.67 ERA and 47 strikeouts.

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