I was planning on covering Okajima in an Unknown Heroes post, but since there is Okajima news today, I will just go ahead and talk about him here.
The Red Sox today brought Hideki Okajima back after non-tendering him earlier in the offseason. Okajima came over from Japan prior to the 2007 season, possibly as a way to help acclimate prized signing Daisuke Matsuzaka to the U.S. Okajima and Matsuzaka have never really been buddy-buddy though.
Okajima was a highly effective left-handed arm out of the bullpen for the 2007 World Series champs, going 3-2 with a 2.22 ERA and 63 strikeouts, compared to 17 walks, in 69 innings. He also racked up five saves. Okajima was effective due to an extremely deceptive pitching motion that resulted in his face not even pointing toward the batter at the end. Such movement was disorienting for hitters.
Over the next few years, his stats have gotten progressively worse, to the point that there was some question whether Okajima would be brought back this year. Luckily, he is back. Hopefully he will bounce back some. Otherwise, Rich Hill, Andrew Miller, and Felix Doubront will be ready to take his place in the bullpen.