This looks like it REALLY is it for Okajima

Hideki Okajima was designated for assignment… again.
And I am betting he has pitched his last game for the Red Sox.

Then again, I made that bet LAST December as well.

I can’t say good bye too many times.
But everything I said in my tribute to Oki last December still stands.

Let us salute a very valuable member of the 2007 World Champions.
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Whoops! My Hideki Okajima farewell tribute was premature!

You know that awkward feeling you get when you give someone a long and heartfelt good bye, maybe even shed a tear or two, only to find out they are going to stick around for a few more days.

It kind of makes whatever good bye you say later look kind of silly.

That happened with me here on Sully Baseball.

On December 5th, Hideki Okajima was nontendered by the Red Sox. I made sure on the blog that his time with the Sox did not end without a fitting tribute for a playoff and World Series hero.

Well, on New Year’s Eve, Oke-Dokey resigned with the Red Sox. He’s coming back.
I knew he’d find another job. He’s left handed and has a pulse. I just didn’t think it would be the Sox.

OK, Hideki… next time you leave, I am giving you a VERY SHORT post.

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Thank you Hideki Okajima

The Red Sox non tendered Hideki Okajima the other day, thus ending his 4 year run in Boston. It was probably time. He had a mediocre 2010 and pitchers in their mid 30s tend to not improve over the years.

But before he goes off (and as a left handed reliever will inevitably find work) I ask my fellow Red Sox fans to tip their hats to him.

Remember this was the guy who was basically supposed to be Daisuke Matsusaka’s caddy. A fellow countryman to keep the new ace company.

When he let up a homer to John Buck on the first pitch he ever threw, it looked like Okajima was Japanese for “Bust.”

He didn’t let up a run the rest of his outing… nor his next outing… nor the next one.
In fact he didn’t let up a run in his next 20 outings.

And he had that bad ass delivery where he literally wasn’t looking at the batter as he pitched. I have no clue how that worked… but it did.
His ERA was 0.42 in late May.
By the All Star break it was 0.82 and he was voted in by the fans (presumably by Red Sox Nation and the Nation of Japan) to the All Star Game.

As late as August 8th, his ERA remained sub 1.
Then his arm started to tire and the league caught up with him.

Theo and Tito rested him for a few weeks so he would be fresh for the playoffs… and he delivered.

He was unscored upon in the Division Series and ALCS, pitching 2 key innings in Game 7 against Cleveland.

Then, in the second game of the World Series, in a tense 2-1 victory, he pitched 2 1/3 perfect innings striking out 4.

He looked like a potential MVP candidate before letting up a homer in Denver. But he was a key player for the 2007 World Champs.

So off he goes to begin the journeyman part of his career. But thanks Oke-Doke. You combined with Papelbon in 2007 to give the Sox one of the best 1-2 bullpen punches in Red Sox history.

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