Marc Kroon Signs With Giants After High-Octane Closing Stint in Japan
Marc Kroon, who was clocked at 101 miles per hour three years ago, will vie for a relief job with the World Series champions after compiling 177 saves and a 2.68 ERA in Japan the last six years, FanHouse has learned.
Kroon, who turns 38 in April, expects that his improved accuracy will return with him to the United States.
Wildness plagued the Bronx native throughout a nomadic career here, leading to his departure from the Mets, who had drafted him in 1991, followed by unceremonious exits from the Padres, Reds, Mariners, Dodgers, Angels and finally the Rockies, who sold him to Yokohama in 2004.
But in Japan, Kroon flourished. He earned $13 million there as a star closer who averaged a gaudy 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings.
"We call him 'The Phoenix' because he rose from the ashes," said Kroon's agent, John Boggs.
Remembered by his American employers mostly for walks and wild pitches, Kroon shaved his walks in Japan to a manageable 3.8 per nine, and because he allowed only 220 hits in his 305 1/3 career innings there, his WHIP was a sparkling 1.14. The 6-foot-2 right-hander had at least 25 saves in all six years.
Kroon had a mixed 2010 season with Yomiuri, his employer since 2008. He suffered career-highs in ERA (4.26) and home runs (five) but had 73 strikeouts in 50 2/3 innings. His fastball touched the high 90s.
He averaged only 51 innings per season in Japan and, because of reconstructive elbow surgery and temporary retirement, didn't pitch in 2001-02, so his career innings total is low for a 37-year-old.
Since winning the World Series, the Giants have retained all but one reliever, righty Guillermo Mota. They recently signed Jeff Suppan as a long reliever or emergency starter. Also among the bullpen candidates is Dan Runzler, a lefty with a high-speed fastball.
Kroon's team the last three years, the Tokyo-based Yomiuri Giants, balked at re-signing him. San Francisco issued him a minor league contract that will grow to a $1 million salary and $1.55 million in performance bonuses if Kroon reaches the majors. The pitcher's earnings in Japan seemingly would've allowed him to retire this winter, but "Marc wants to at least have the possibility of having his kids watch him pitch here in the major leagues," Boggs said.