Rangers set to announce signing of Japanese reliever Fukumori

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers agreed to terms
Thursday with Japanese reliever Kazuo Fukumori.

Fukumori, who pitched for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles last
season, is coming off surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow.
He has undergone a physical for the Rangers.

The deal was still being finalized Thursday night, but the
Rangers had already scheduled a news conference for Friday ``to
announce the signing'' of Fukumori.

The 31-year-old Fukumori could be a setup reliever or the closer
in Texas. Over parts of 13 seasons in Japan, Fukumori was 34-42
with a 3.68 ERA in 377 games (47 starts) with 72 career saves.

Fukumori was 4-2 with 17 saves and a 4.75 ERA in 34 games last
season. In 2006, he had 21 saves and a 2.17 ERA, both career bests,
in 58 innings over 50 games.

On Wednesday night, the Rangers declined to offer a contract to
Akinori Otsuka, making him a free agent.

Otsuka, who had 32 saves in 2006 for Texas, was 2-1 with a 2.51
ERA and four saves in 34 appearances last season when he was back
in the setup role. He was sidelined the final three months of the
season because of a sore right elbow.

Left-hander C.J. Wilson (2-1, 12 saves in 66 appearances) became
the primary closer for the Rangers after Eric Gagne was traded to
Boston on July 31. The Rangers talked to Gagne again before he
signed a free agent deal this month with Milwaukee.