With a slightly hotter baseball story than the (football) retirement of Reds/Braves McCarver-foe Deion Sanders, the well-named Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge (!) reports that former Mets/White Sox reliever Shingo Takatsu is returning to Japan.

The 37-old right-hander (above) had been training with the Central League’s Yakult Swallows at its spring camp and sufficiently impressed Yakult’s new player-manager Atsuya Furuta.

“He has pace, he is sharp and from what I’ve seen every aspect of his game is up to standard and I want him to help us win the championship,” said Furuta.

Takatsu said, “I’m just relieved that I will be able to play baseball this year. I’m not in tip-top condition at the moment but I have given 100 percent. As a member of the bullpen I hope I can help the team win.”

Takatsu joined Yakult in 1991. He became a closer in 1993 and went on to eclipse Kazuhiro Sasaki’s record of 229, becoming the Japanese career saves leader with 260 saves in 525 games.

Highly recommended reading : Metsblog’s Matthew Cerrone’s interview with The Sporting News’ Ken Rosenthal.