12/13/07 11:07 PM ET
Rangers reel in Japan's Fukumori
Right-hander expected to compete for late-inning role
By Ken Daley / Special to MLB.com
That leaves Fukumori, right-hander Joaquin Benoit and left-hander C.J. Wilson as the leading candidates to fill the late-inning setup and closer roles next season. Daniels conceded on Wednesday that Wilson (12 saves in 14 opportunities in his first full season in the Majors) had the inside track for the closer's job. But that was also before he would acknowledge interest in Fukumori."I think, if you took a straw poll of [manager Ron Washington] and his staff, C.J. would probably emerge as the top internal candidate," Daniels said. "But we haven't gotten to that point yet. It's not over." Fukumori's professional career began in 1995, the first of his nine seasons with the Yokohama BayStars. He jumped to the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes in 2004, before joining the Tohoku Rakuten club for the past three seasons. In 377 career games (including 48 starts) in Japan's top leagues, Fukumori compiled a 34-42 record with 72 saves and a 3.68 ERA. He allowed 670 hits in 662 innings, including 56 home runs. He walked 243 and struck out 460.
Ken Daley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.