|#37 Hideki Okajima|
|Boston Red Sox - Relief Pitcher|
|Bats: Left||Throws: Left|
|Height: 6'1||Weight: 194 lbs|
|Born on December 25, 1975 in Kyoto, Japan|
|April 2, 2007 for the Boston Red Sox|
|Picked no. 0 in round 0 of the 0000 draft by the Not Drafted.|
|Updated August 9, 2008|
|*Boston Red Sox (2007-)|
|Career Highlights and Awards|
|1x All-Star (2007)|
Hideki Okajima was born on December 25, 1975, in Fushimi-Ku, Kyoto, Japan. He is currently playing for the Boston Red Sox. Okajima is known for his distinctive pitching style, in which he turns his head downwards and jerks it toward third base as he delivers the ball.
Early Career and NBPL Edit
Okajima attended Higashiyama high school, where he pitched in the 1994 Koshien National High School Tournament. He was drafted in the 3rd round by the Yomiuri Giants of the Nippon Professional Baseball League in 1993. He played with the Giants until 2006, usually in the role of a setup man; however, he was the Giants closer between 2000 and 2001. On August 31, 1999, Okajima pitched 9 full innings out of the bullpen after the starter had not recorded a single out and was injured. Okajima did not give up a run in that game. He won championships with the Giants in 2000 and 2002.
Okajima was traded to the Nippon Ham-Fighters prior to the 2006 season for two position players. That year, he was a valuable addition to the championship-winning Ham-Fighters, coming out of the bullpen 55 times, with a 2.14 ERA. Part of the reason for his success was an alteration to his delivery, giving him pinpoint control, something he had severely lacked earlier in his career. At the end of the 2006 season, he became a free agent.
During the 2006-2007 offseason, Okajima signed a two-year, $2.5 million contract with the Boston Red Sox, which included a club option for the third year, valued at $1.75 million. His presence was vastly overshadowed by fellow countryman Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Okajima was often referred to as the "other" Japanese pitcher at camp. He made the major league team out of Spring Training, and made his major league debut on opening day against the Kansas City Royals. His welcome was probably not what he had hoped, as John Buck hit a home run off his very first pitch. However, with Joel Piniero and Mike Timlin struggling, Okajima continued to get opportunities in the setup capacity. He made the most of it. Over the next two months, Okajima did not allow a run until the New York Yankees scored on a fielder's choice on May 22. The run actually came on a controversial play, as Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez allegedly popped up late from his slide, colliding with Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia and slowing down his relay throw. Because of his fine play early in the season, Okajima was voted the American League Rookie of the Month for April and was selected to the 2007 All-Star Game through the final vote (Becoming the major league record third Red Sox player to make the team this way, after Johnny Damon and Jason Varitek . However, he did not pitch in the game.
After the all-star break, he continued to pitch well, however by the end of the season his workload was beginning to catch up with him. He allowed a career-high 4 runs to the Yankees on September 12, and the Red Sox shut him down following that outing, to give him a chance to rest for the playoffs. He made the best of this, pitching 2 and 1/3 innings of perfect baseball in relief of Curt Schilling in Game 2 of the World Series, earning him a standing ovation from the Fenway Park crowd.
|DATE OF BIRTH||1975|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Kyoto, Japan|
|DATE OF DEATH|
|PLACE OF DEATH|