The Los Angeles Angels have released right-hander Hiroyuki Kobayashi after only three spring training appearances, according to Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times. Kobayashi signed a minor league contract with the Angels at the end of January.
Kobayashi's deal with Los Angeles included an invitation to major league spring training. He appeared in three games this spring, allowing two runs on three hits with three walks and four strikeouts over four innings. Prior to his release, Kobayashi was expected to compete for a middle relief role with the Angels.
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He's never appeared in the majors, as he spent parts of five seasons in the Japan Pacific League and the Japan Central League. He started at least 20 games per season from 2007-09 as a member of the Chiba Lotte Marines. The Marines moved the right-hander to the bullpen in 2010, and he spent the 2011 season in a relief role with the Hanshin Tigers.
In 2011, Kobayashi appeared in 42 games with the Tigers. The 34-year-old maintained an ERA of 3.00 with a 2.37 strikeout-to-walk (SO/BB) ratio over 39 innings. In his five seasons pitching professionally, Kobayashi owns a career ERA of 3.65 with 3.26 SO/BB. He did not pitch professionally in 2012.