found dead Wednesday in the Los Angeles suburb of Rancho Palos Verdes, an apparent suicide. An autopsy will be performed Friday or Saturday.
Irabu was hyped as the Japanese version of Nolan Ryan when he arrived in the US in 1997 after signed a 4/12.8 contract with New York. He was never able to match the hype, however, posting a 7.09 ERA in 13 games in 1997. He had his best season in 1998, with a 4.06 ERA and 13 wins. He pitched in only one post-season game - at Fenway Park, in the infamous "Where Is Roger? In the Shower!" game (1999 ALCS 3).
Irabu was traded to the Expos after that season and pitched in Montreal (2000-01) and Texas (2002). He returned to Japan and pitched for the Hanshin Tigers in 2003. He had played semi-pro ball in recent years in California.
Ichiro Sakashita, who identified himself as a friend of Irabu, said Irabu and his wife had been separated for about a month.