Baseball

Tomo Ohka, Blue Jays finalize deal

Pitcher Tomo Ohka passed a physical Thursday to finalize his one-year, $1.5-million US contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Pitcher Tomo Ohka passed a physical Thursday to finalize his one-year, $1.5-million US contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Ohka, 30, can earn an additional $1.5 million US in bonuses.

The Japanese right-hander went 4-5 with a 4.85 earned-run average in 18 starts for the Milwaukee Brewers last season, despite landing on the disabled list because of back problems.

"He has always been a guy that puts up innings," Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said. "He's had a lot of quality starts.

"He's a veteran, he's been around. You don't have to worry about him panicking."

Ohka will compete with veterans John Thomson and Josh Towers as well as youngsters Casey Janssen, Shaun Marcum and Dustin for the fourth and fifth spots in the starting rotation behind Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett and Gustavo Chacin.

"Having depth is probably the best way for us to go," Ricciardi said. "The more [pitching] we have, the better chance we have of starting a season and finishing a season handling injuries."

"Ideally, you'd love to have one guy that you were able to get that you could say, 'Hey, we can count on 200 innings here,'" he continued. "We weren't able to get that type of guy and the next best thing is to try to approach it with as many guys as possible."

Both Ohka and Thomson have shown the ability to log as many innings, if not more, than Ted Lilly averaged over three seasons.

Unfortunately, both veterans are trying to rebound from injuries.

"There's a risk from that standpoint," Ricciardi said. "[But] we've got as much medical clearance as we can on both of them."

Ohka is 48-58 lifetime with a 4.03 ERA, five complete games and one shutout in 174 appearances (162 starts) over eight MLB seasons for the Boston Red Sox, Montreal Expos, Washington Nationals and Brewers.

His finest campaign came in 2002, when he went 13-8 with a 3.18 ERA in 32 appearances for Montreal.

With files from the Canadian Press

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