TORONTO (AP) – The Tampa Bay Devil Rays designated struggling right-hander Hideo Nomo for assignment on Saturday.

Nomo lasted just 2 2-3 innings in Friday’s 11-6 loss to Toronto, allowing seven runs and nine hits with three walks. It was the third time in the past five starts that Nomo allowed at least six runs, and dropped him to 1-7 with a 10.32 ERA in road games this season.

Nomo, who will turn 37 next month, said he won’t pitch in Japan if he doesn’t get signed by another major league team.

“I want to keep playing in the majors so I’m going to wait for somebody to call,” Nomo said through an interpreter.

After Friday night’s game, manager Lou Piniella said someone would be removed from the rotation if starter Doug Waechter was ready to return from tendinitis in his right index finger.

Nomo went 5-8 with a 7.24 ERA in 19 starts. The first Japanese-born player to play in the majors after playing professionally in Japan has a record of 123-109 in a career that began when he was the 1995 NL Rookie of the Year for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Tampa Bay has 10 days to trade Nomo or put him on waivers.

“It’s very sad because I’ve been with this team since spring training. I’m not happy with leaving this team,” Nomo said. “I understand why the team did it to me because they have a lot of young pitchers.”

Nomo said he would return to Tampa, where his family is.

“It wasn’t an easy decision. He’s a professional in every sense of the word,” Piniella said. “He gave us everything he had. The focus here is basically, as you’ve seen, is young so we are going to use those innings to develop our younger people.”

Nomo, who had an $800,000 base salary, had earned $230,000 in performances bonuses and the Devil Rays will avoid having to pay any more of them. He could have earned as much as $470,000 more.

“We appreciate everything that Hideo Nomo did for this organization,” Devil Rays general manager Chuck LaMar said. “He’s had a tremendous career, not only in major league baseball but over in Japan also. But we felt it was time to go in a different direction with our starting pitching.”

The Devil Rays also activated infielder Alex Gonzalez from the 15-day disabled list. He was sidelined with a neck strain.

AP-ES-07-16-05 2107EDT


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