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Mets Outright Nomo To Minors

The New York Mets gave up on right-hander Hideo Nomo by outrighting the one-time sensation to Triple-A Norfolk on Wednesday night.

Nomo has 72 hours to decide whether to accept the assignment or declare himself a free agent.

"It's a difficult decision because it involves a player of his stature and given what he's done in his career," Mets general manager Steve Phillips said. "But I've got to make a judgment in what I can do to have us win as many games as we can, and this starts the process."

Nomo, 30, starred in Japan before joining the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995. He won 45 games in Los Angeles, but struggled last season and was traded to the Mets in June. He went 4-5 with a 4.82 ERA in 17 games with New York and was ineffective this spring, going 0-2 with a 7.62 ERA in four appearances.

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"He said he understood our decision and acted very professionally," Phillips said. "Of course, he doesn't show a lot of emotion anyway."

Nomo made his much-publicized debut in May 1995 and immediately proved he could pitch well in any country. He won the NL rookie of the year award, led the league with 236 strikeouts and limited opposing batters to a .182 batting average.

In 1996 Nomo pitched a no-hitter Sept. 17 against Colorado and went 16-11 with a 3.19 ERA. He finished second in the league by holding the opposition to a .216 batting average.

It was more of the same in 1997, when he recorded 233 strikeouts. But he appeared to lose his touch last season, going 2-7 with the Dodgers before being dealt to New York in a four-player deal.

Phillips delivered the news to Nomo before the Mets arrived at the ballpark, so Nomo was not available for comment.

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