Takahashi takes the mound vs. Rangers

TAKAHASHI-H-022313-SG-69

(Photo by Stephen Green)

This offseason, the Cubs dipped into the free agent market to get some help for a bullpen that struggled in 2012. Japanese import Kyuji Fujikawa got much of the press, especially considering his previous success in the NPB. But the Cubs also acquired a few other relievers, including lefty Hisanori Takahashi.

The 37-year-old Japanese native started last season with the Angels before the Pirates claimed him on waivers in late August. The Cubs signed Takahashi to a minor league deal on Dec. 27, after he was released by the Pirates.

Last season, he recorded a 5.54 ERA in 50.1 innings, striking out 52 batters, with a WHIP of 1.25. In 68 innings in 2011 with Los Angeles, he recorded a 3.44 ERA. Before the Mets originally signed him to a major league contract in 2010, Takahashi spent 10 seasons in Japan, playing for the Yomiuri Giants.

In four innings this spring, the finesse pitcher has given up three hits and one earned run. He’ll be the starter Wednesday as the Cubs take on the Rangers on the road. Though he might start the season at Triple-A, Takahashi could prove a serviceable, veteran arm in the ‘pen as the season progresses.

Steve Clevenger will get the start at first base, while Anthony Rizzo is off playing for Team Italy in the WBC.

Wednesday’s game is scheduled for 2:05 CST, and it will be webcast at cubs.com. Texas will send lefty Robbie Ross to the mound. Here’s the lineup he’ll be facing:

CF David DeJesus
2B Darwin Barney
RF Scott Hairston
LF Darnell McDonald
DH Dave Sappelt
C Dioner Navarro
SS Javier Baez
3B Junior Lake
1B Steve Clevenger

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