- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 18, 2005

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Washington Nationals won’t be distracted by any arbitration hearings heading into next month’s spring training.

The Nationals avoided the process with their last arbitration-eligible player when they signed Japanese right-hander Tomo Ohka to a one-year, $2.75 million deal yesterday.

Nationals interim general manager Jim Bowden could not be reached for comment.

Ohka, 28, is coming off an injury-plagued season in which he went 3-7 with a 3.40 ERA in 15 starts for the Montreal Expos. In the second game of a June 10 doubleheader at Kansas City, Ohka suffered a broken arm when he was hit by a Carlos Beltran line drive.

Two days later, Ohka had a plate inserted into the arm. Surprisingly, he returned to the mound in time to make three September starts. Ohka was arguably the Expos’ best pitcher before the injury with a 3.01 ERA. He was the team’s player of the month for May, when he went 3-0 with a 1.51 ERA.

Ohka’s best season was in 2002, when he went 13-8 and ranked seventh in the National League with a 3.18 ERA. That year, Ohka struck out 118 in 1922/3 innings. During his six-year major league career, Ohka is 33-44 with a 3.92 ERA in 124 games, including 115 starts, with the Boston Red Sox (1999-01) and Montreal/Washington (2001-present).

Ohka is projected to be the Nationals’ No. 3 starter.

Ken Wright

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