- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 18, 2005


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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