The media learned today that the Softbank Hawks have contacted Hideki Okajima to see if he is interested in returning to Japan. The Hawks apparently are not yet 100% sure if they want to sign him, but with Takahiro Mahara's right shoulder problems and a want for more left-handed pitching out of the bullpen, Okajima does appear to something of a match.
The Hawks have been told that Okajima's left should be ok and that they will most likely ask to have it examined again.
Okajima also posted an update to his blog entitled, "I have made up my mind." In it, he thanks fans for all their support and that he has decided to return to Japan.
Daily Sports also reports that the Hawks could make an announcement that they are in the process of signing Okajima within the next few days.
UPDATE @ 11:36pm - Sports Hochi posted a report this morning that indicated the two sides are close to a one-year deal.
UPDATE 2/28 @ 3:29am - Forgot to add that the article also mentions:
- that a number of MLB teams did show some interest in Okajima but never submitted an actual offer.
- that Okajima was told not to throw even though he felt no pain. After his contract with the Yankees was terminated, he tossed bullpen sessions every other day (about sixty pitches each time).
- that Okajima tossed two 100+ pitch bullpen sessions during his workouts in Hawaii in January.
- Okajima's deal will likely have a low guaranteed base with a lot of incentives.
- Okajima will undergo a medical upon returning to Japan. The Hawks will make their final decision on him once they get the results from the examination.