In a roundabout way, Kei Igawa might have helped get some outs for the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles.
The lefty talked to Darrell Rasner about Japan Pro Baseball when the two were teammates bouncing back and forth from the New York Yankees' big league club to the minors.
Rasner did more of the bouncing upward, but Igawa planted a seed that has grown into a move from the bright lights of the Big Apple to the cozy glow of Sendai.
"I was a teammate of Kei Igawa and I tried to talk to him--I try to talk to all my teammates, especially guys from other countries, and just figure out what the baseball culture is like in other countries. And the way he talked it up, I just wanted to experience it," Rasner told The Daily Yomiuri this spring.
"I just wanted a chance to come over here."
What did Igawa say to get the seed growing? "Guys are treated really well over here," according Rasner, who was 5-10 with a 5.40 ERA in 24 games for the Yankees last year. "They make things easy and they make things where you're sole focus is out on the field."
So Rasner, 28, inked a deal and said goodbye to a team with rich tradition to join the 5-year-old Eagles, who for all intents and purposes, have yet to leave the nest.
The righty is expected to join a rotation built around World Baseball Classic hero Hisashi Iwakuma and Masahiro Tanaka, who stand out among a sometimes-inconsistent cast of hurlers. "I'm just very happy it worked out the way it worked out," he said.