[February 13, 2006]

Baseball: Free agent Takatsu rejoins Yakult+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)TOKYO, Feb. 13_(Kyodo) _ Former New York Mets pitcher Shingo Takatsu, who filed for free agency during the off season, has rejoined the Yakult Swallows, club officials said Monday.

The 37-old right-hander had been training with the Central League club at its spring camp and sufficiently impressed Yakult's new player-manager Atsuya Furuta.

"He has pace, he is sharp and from what I've seen every aspect of his game is up to standard and I want him to help us win the championship," said Furuta.

Takatsu said, "I'm just relieved that I will be able to play baseball this year. I'm not in tip-top condition at the moment but I have given 100 percent. As a member of the bullpen I hope I can help the team win."

Takatsu joined Yakult in 1991. He became a closer in 1993 and went on to eclipse Kazuhiro Sasaki's record of 229, becoming the Japanese career saves leader with 260 saves in 525 games.

He moved to the major leagues and joined the Chicago White Sox in 2004, where he posted 19 saves in his first season.

But his form dipped and he lost the closer's role in mid-May last year and was released by the White Sox in August just a week after he had signed a new minor league contract with the American League club.

Takatsu joined the Mets on a minor league contract before filing for free agency last November.

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