Rangers Again Look to the Far East in Attempt to Bolster Pitching

Colby Lewis, 2.0?

After pitching for six seasons in Japan, right-handed relief pitcher Tony Barnette signed with the Rangers on Tuesday. Barnette, 32, moved to a closer’s role for the Yakult Swallows and last year produced a team-record 41 saves and 1.29 ERA.

For now the Rangers’ closer remains Shawn Tolleson. But the addition of a proven closer like Barnette might give them some freedom to explore trade talks.

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If Barnette works out as well as two other Japanese imports, it will be a steal of a signing by general manager Jon Daniels.

Lewis went to Japan to pitch in 2008-09, and returned to Arlington to be the franchise’s most consistent pitcher. He’s won 59 games in five years since returning, including a team-leading 17-9 record last year. And, of course, the Rangers also plucked their staff ace – Yu Darvish – from across the Pacific Ocean.

Barnette was originally drafted by the Diamondbacks in 2006. After four years in the minors he went to Japan in 2010.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

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