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Oakland A's Interested in Hideki Okajima: Will It Hurt Bullpen Chemistry?

BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 26: Pitcher Hideki Okajima #37 of the Boston Red Sox delivers to a Baltimore Orioles batter during the seventh inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 26, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
D.J. O'ConnorSenior Analyst IIIJanuary 28, 2013

The Oakland A's and the rest of the MLB are getting ready to send their pitchers and catchers to either Arizona or Florida to begin the 2013 spring training.  

The A's may have one more guest than anticipated.  

According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the A's are considering signing Japanese relief pitcher Hideki Okajima, who spent several seasons pitching for the Boston Red Sox, as well as several seasons in Japan.  

This past year in Japan, he put up great numbers, with a 0.94 ERA over 47.2 innings. During his time in Boston, he posted a 3.06 ERA in a span of 254 appearances.

There were a few spots for the A's to strengthen before the 2013 season—such as catcher and shortstop—but the bullpen was an area of strength for the A's. Therefore, it is curious as to why the A's are looking at Okajima.

Towards the end of the 2012 season, the A's were winning by a small margin going into the late innings, and you could count on seeing the trio of Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook and Grant Balfour come out of the 'pen to seal the deal.

Beyond that trio, the A's have left-handed pitchers in Jerry Blevins and Jordan Norberto. Okajima would be just another lefty.  

Chemistry was a weapon that the A's showed off in 2012 with "Balfour Rage" and "Bernie-Lean," along with Brandon Inge and Jonny Gomes as clubhouse leaders. Not only does losing Gomes and Inge hurt the chemistry of the fun team from 2012, but adding more and more new faces hurts, especially when additions are not necessary.  

Hiroyuki Nakajima made himself the exception to that rule when he called Billy Beane "extremely sexy and cool" at his introductory press conference.  He looks like he will fit right into the clubhouse.

Even if Okajima had the loose style that the A's were notorious for in 2012, he is not needed in the underrated bullpen sitting down the left-field line in the O.Co Coliseum.

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