Bucs sign Igarashi, Clement to Minors deals

Bucs sign Igarashi, Clement to Minors deals

Bucs sign Igarashi, Clement to Minors deals
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates have added right-hander Ryota Igarashi and first baseman Jeff Clement through Minor League contracts and have invited both to participate in Spring Training. The signings bring the organization's number of non-roster Spring Training invitees to eight.

Pittsburgh is plenty familiar with Clement, who has been in the organization since being acquired as part of a seven-player trade in July 2009. At the time the Pirates were hopeful that Clement would be the team's next starting first baseman, but injuries and struggles have limited him to 54 big league games since that trade.

Clement played in just 31 games -- all in the Minors -- in 2011 as he continued to recover from surgery on his left knee. That knee injury also cut short Clement's 2010 season.

During his stint with the Pirates in '10, Clement batted .201 with seven homers and a .237 on-base percentage. He began that season as the starting first baseman but eventually lost that job to Garrett Jones.

The 28-year-old was a first-round pick (No. 3 overall) in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.

Igarashi became a free agent when the Mets released him in October. The 32-year-old appeared in 45 games for New York in 2011, all as a reliever. He finished with a 4.66 ERA, 42 strikeouts and 28 walks in 38 2/3 innings.

A native of Chiba, Japan, Igarashi joined the Mets after signing a two-year contract in December 2009, and made his Major League debut on April 8, 2010. That was the first of 34 appearances he made that season. In 30 1/3 innings, he posted a 7.12 ERA.

Igarashi will compete for a job in the Pirates' bullpen, though he would seem a long shot to win a spot out of Spring Training given how many relievers the Pirates already have. Clement is likely to begin the year in the Minors.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.