Tomokazu Ohka (大家友和 Ōka Tomokazu?, Template:IPA-ja) (born March 18, 1976) is a Major League Baseball pitcher for the Cleveland Indians. Previously, Ohka played with the Boston Red Sox (1999–2001), Montreal Expos (2001–2004), Washington Nationals (2005), Milwaukee Brewers (2005–2006), and Toronto Blue Jays (2007). He throws right-handed and is a switch hitter.
Coming to AmericaEdit
On November 20, 1998, Ohka was purchased by the Boston Red Sox from the Yokohama BayStars (Japan's Central League). Ohka's statistics in Japan were less than flattering, but his ability to control his pitches sparked the interest of the Red Sox.
In 1999, Ohka began his MLB career with the Red Sox' Double-A affiliate at that time, the Trenton Thunder. In 12 starts he went 8-0 with a 3.00 era. He was promoted to the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox where he had a 1.92 era and a 7-0 record (and pitched the 1st PawSox no-hitter). On July 19, 1999 he made his major league debut. Ohka found himself in the minors again in 2000. With Pawtucket, he went 9-6 in 19 starts with a 2.96 era, with 3 complete games, one being a perfect game. In both 1999 and 2000, The Red Sox named Ohka their minor league player of the year. Ohka was in the All-Star Futures Game in 1999 and 2000 and in 2000 he was the Triple-A All-Star Game starting pitcher.
Major league careerEdit
During the middle of the 2001 season, Ohka was sent to Montreal for the veteran closer Ugueth Urbina. Ohka had a mildly successful run with the Expos. His most productive season came with the Expos in 2002, when he posted 13-8 with 118 strikeouts and a 3.18 ERA.
In June 2004, Ohka broke his right forearm when he was hit by a line drive off Carlos Beltrán's bat in Kansas City. Ohka underwent major surgery and was out until mid-September. He finished 3-7 with a 3.40 ERA in 15 starts.
As the Expos moved to Washington, D.C. for the 2005 season, Ohka was part of a starting rotation that included Liván Hernández, Esteban Loaiza and Tony Armas, Jr.. Ohka was involved in an incident with Washington manager Frank Robinson. Ohka protested being removed from a game, a move which resulted in an undisclosed fine from the team. This disagreement, along with an injury to Nationals second baseman Jose Vidro, was reason enough to deal Ohka. On June 10, 2005, the Washington Nationals traded the righty to the Milwaukee Brewers for second baseman Junior Spivey. The trade is widely believedTemplate:Who to have benefited the Milwaukee Brewers more because it allowed them to open the door for highly-touted second baseman Rickie Weeks and get a quality pitcher at almost no cost. In Tomo's first game with his new club on June 14, 2005, he threw a complete game shut out against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays during interleague play.
Ohka was the Brewers' fourth starting pitcher behind Ben Sheets, Doug Davis and Chris Capuano. However, on December 1, 2006, the Brewers declined to offer Ohka salary arbritration, making him a free agent.
On January 23, 2007, the right-hander reached a tentative agreement with the Toronto Blue Jays on a one year contract. The agreement was made official on January 25, 2007, and the contract was announced to be worth $1,500,000. Ohka could earn an additional $1,500,000 in incentives. Incentives are usually based upon innings pitched or game appearances.
On June 7, after compiling a 2-5 record in 10 starts, the Toronto Blue Jays designated Ohka for assignment and subsequently released him on June 18. While with the Jays, he was given the nickname Tomo Ohkato Mr. Roboto. On June 19, 2007, he signed a minor league contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was released by the Cardinals on July 3, 2007, after going 0-2 with a 6.87 ERA in 3 starts for their Triple A team, the Memphis Redbirds. Ohka then signed a minor league contract on July 13, 2007, with the Seattle Mariners.
On February 21, 2008, Ohka signed a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox. He became a free agent at the end of the season.
Ohka has an average—and sometimes a shade above-- fastball, a decent curve, a slider and change-up, all of which can be effective when he is focused. Ohka's success lies in his ability to change speeds and location effectively, keeping the hitter off balance.
On December 5, 2008, Ohka signed a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians with an invitation to Spring Training. On March 15, he was reassigned to the minor league camp. He was called up to the majors on May 30.
|1999||Boston Red Sox||8||1||2||0||13.0||8||6||2||6.23|
|2000||Boston Red Sox||13||3||6||0||69.1||40||26||7||3.12|
|2001||Boston Red Sox / Montreal Expos||22||3||9||0||107.0||68||29||15||5.48|
|2005||Washington Nationals / Milwaukee Brewers||32||11||9||0||180.1||98||55||22||4.04|
|2007||Toronto Blue Jays||10||2||5||0||56.0||21||22||10||5.79|
- Ohka pitched a nine-inning perfect game for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox on June 1, 2000. Ohka retired all 27 batters he faced in a 2-0 win over the Charlotte Knights, and threw only 76 pitches to toss the first nine-inning perfect game in the International League since 1952.
- Ohka is the first and only member of the Montreal Expos to be named on The Simpsons. In the March 16, 2003 episode entitled C. E. D'oh!, Bart Simpson exclaims "Look at me! I'm Tomokazu Ohka of the Montreal Expos!" while playing baseball with Milhouse. He also helped lead the Gretna Junior Legion baseball team to a state championship in the summer of 2008. He was aided by Oliver Bantam, Baby Drew, and RJ Reynolds.
- ↑ On May 29, Ohka was called up by the Indians, probably to pitch out of the bullpen. The team optioned relief pitcher Zack Jackson to the minors to make room for Ohka on their active roster.Indians ink RHP Tomo Ohka to free agent Minor League contract
- ↑ Tribe thins out roster with three moves