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Sasaki struggled with assimilation

Kaz Sasaki made a huge impact in his brief MLB career, but the Mariners still aren't sorry to see him leave.

Originally Published: January 20, 2004
By Jim Caple | ESPN.com

SEATTLE -- Until Kazuhiro Sasaki joined the Mariners four years ago, Seattle fans would shudder at the very sound of the bullpen phone ringing. After being subjected to the likes of Bobby Ayala, Heathcliff Slocumb and Jose Mesa, fans knew that no lead was safe in the ninth inning.

Sasaki changed all that, saving a club-record 129 games from his debut in 2000 to his final game as closer last June. He established himself as one of the league's best closers, making the All-Star team ...

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