Arming for 2018: Hirano arrives from Japan hoping to bolster D-backs bullpen

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Hirano signed a two-year, $6 million dollar deal last December. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Hirano signed a two-year, $6 million dollar deal last December. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Yoshihisa Hirano Monday donned his new No. 66 D-backs jersey on Monday. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Yoshihisa Hirano Monday donned his new No. 66 D-backs jersey on Monday. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Out of respect for his new home and new team, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Yoshihisa Hirano Monday opened his introductory press conference at Salt River Fields with a solid effort in English.

“Hello, my name is Yoshihisa Hirano, please call me “Yoshi”, said the pitcher donning his new No. 66 D-backs jersey. “Thank you for coming today. I’m happy to be a member of the D-backs.”

From there, the 33-year-old Japanese reliever relied on interpreter Mack Hayashi to communicate during a heavily attended media briefing one day before D-backs pitchers and catchers report for spring training 2018. Hirano and his family have relocated to the Phoenix-area after playing 11 decorated seasons in Japan.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Diamondbacks]

“The D-backs were the first team to make me an offer,” said Hirano. “When me [sic] and my family came over last December, general manager Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo were there. They treated me and my family very warmly and made us feel like we were at home.”

When ultimately deciding which MLB team he’d play for, the D-backs playoff appearance in 2017 was undeniably a factor.

[READ MORE: Diamondbacks had great year despite postseason loss]

“Yes, I knew about the D-backs,” said Hirano. “I knew they made it to the postseason and had a really good team and a very young team.”

Hirano signed a two-year, $6 million dollar deal last December. He’s expected to compete for the D-backs closer’s role with Archie Bradley and off-season acquisition Brad Boxberger, a former American League All-Star with the Tampa Bay Rays.

[READ MORE: Diamondbacks acquire Boxberger from Tampa Bay]

Hirano has extensive experience in that role with the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball, Japan’s premier league.

“Yes, I’ve been a closer in Japan,” said Hirano. “So that will ultimately be my goal but I’m willing to pitch in any situation that Torey asks me to.”

To communicate with Hirano on the field and in the clubhouse, Lovullo will rely heavily on an interpreter but Hirano admits that he’ll have to work on his own to build relationships with his new teammates.

“It’s very, very important to me and I take very seriously,” said Hirano of bonding with the other D-backs players. “I want to communicate as much as I can on my own but my wife is going to take English lessons as well so maybe she can be my tutor.”

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