Sadness, smiles for Irabu

July, 29, 2011
7/29/11
6:10
PM ET
Derek Jeter said he "was caught off-guard'' by the news that Hideki Irabu, who came to the Yankees from Japan amid great fanfare in 1997, had been found dead at his home in Los Angeles on Thursday, an apparent suicide victim.

"I feel bad for him and his family,'' Jeter said.

Joe Girardi said he was "saddened by the news,'' and Jorge Posada became a little emotional remembering a teammate he said he "had gotten to know real well.''

"He was a guy that came out here with a lot riding on his shoulders and I thought he did a hell of a job for us,'' Posada said. "When he was into it he was one of the nastiest pitchers in the league.''

But Jeter and Posada preferred to talk about the Irabu they knew as their teammate for 2-1/2 seasons, during which he went 29-20 with a 4.80 ERA. "Irabu was fun,' Jeter said. "You know, he didn’t speak the language much but he knew more than he probably let you guys believe. He was fun to be around, he had a good personality.''

"He was a really good clubhouse guy,'' Posada said. "Always had a smile on his face. "Maybe the communication wasn’t always there but he was always trying to be funny. The (English) words that he knew were the funny ones.''
Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
13 2.77 141 136
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .271
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146