Sasaki Visits World Champs

A stone marten is seen in the Zoological Garden in Dresden, Germany, Thursday, March 9, 2006. The H5N1 bird flu virus has been found in a stone marten, a German laboratory said, indicating the disease has spread to another species of mammal. The weasel-like animal was found on the island of Ruegen in north Germany on March 2, the same area where birds have died.
AP Photo/Matthias Rietschel

Japanese pitcher Kazuhiro Sasaki began his U.S. free agency tour Tuesday by working out for the New York Yankees.

Sasaki, the career saves leader in Japan, is scheduled to meet with New York Mets officials Wednesday at Shea Stadium. He is also expected to work out for several other teams, including the Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners during the first of two scheduled trips to the United States.

The Mets and Mariners are considered among the favorites to sign him.

"There will be no negotiating until after this trip, and perhaps after the following trip," said Sasaki's agent, Tony Attanasio. "The trips are just to meet the teams."

Sasaki threw approximately 25 pitches for Yankees' officials. The right-hander has recovered from surgery in August to remove bone chips in his elbow.

"We just wanted to see if he's healthy," Gordon Blakeley, the Yankees' director of international and professional scouting. "We've seen him pitch over the past five years and know the dominating closer he is in Japan."

"I was nervous, but I felt good," Sasaki said through a translator.

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