Kawakami is in Braves camp…for now
When Kenshin Kawakami arrived in Braves camp this morning, he introduced himself to manager Fredi Gonzalez and renewed acquaintances with a caffeinated Derek Lowe.
Instead of greeting his former rotation mate with, “Don’t worry, they didn’t want me last year”, Lowe simply welcomed Kawakami back and playfully said something about how the Braves had to send Brett Favre’s jet to get the Japanese hurler.
With his visa issues resolved Kawakami was able to leave Japan and arrive in Braves camp more than two weeks after pitchers and catchers staged their first workout.
“It feels like I was just in elementary school and I was sick the whole time and just came back,” Kawakami said through his interpreter.
At least Kawakami has managed to maintain a sense of humor as he prepares to enter a tough situation.
Kawakami is well aware that the Braves have spent the past four months attempting to trade him. He also knows that if he stays within the Atlanta organization, he’ll likely begin the season pitching in either suburban Atlanta’s Gwinnett County or Pearl, Miss.
But when asked, Kawakami refused to admit that he’s hoping to be traded.
“To be honest, I can’t think about that right now,” Kawakami said. “If anything, I’d love to be on this team.”
When the Braves attempted to deal him to some interested clubs from the Japanese League, Kawakami said he wanted a chance to pitch in the United States for at least one more season.
Obviously, this was a right he earned when the Braves opted to give him a three-year, $23 million contract before the start of the 2009 season. Since then, they’ve seen him go 8-22 with a 4.32 ERA in 50 appearances (41 starts).
Through the first two years of this deal the Braves have paid Kawakami $1.79 million per win. Considering there’s a good possibility that he never pitches again in Atlanta, that number will likely look even more Hampton-esque before it’s all said and done.
It’s believed there were some Japanese clubs willing to pay nearly half of the $6.77 million Kawakami is owed in the final year of his contract. Major League clubs haven’t been willing to offer quite as much.
The Pirates showed some interest and the Orioles were believed to have offered to pay the Braves $2 million for Kawakami.
Because the Braves waited to see if they could get more, Kawakami now prepares for a season without knowing exactly where he’ll be pitching.
Check MLB.com and braves.com later today for a complete story about Kawakami’s arrival.
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