Dodgers sign Tsao to one-year deal

Dodgers sign Tsao to one-year contract

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers officially added right-handed pitcher Chin-hui Tsao to the 40-man roster on Monday when he passed his physical exam.

General manager Ned Colletti said the 25-year-old Tsao is healthy and expected to compete for a bullpen spot. Tsao, like new teammate Hong-Chih Kuo, is from Taiwan.

Tsao was non-tendered by the Rockies in December after missing the entire 2006 season and most of 2005 with shoulder labrum and rotator cuff problems. He underwent arthroscopic surgery in May 2005 and hasn't pitched in a regular-season game since.

Tsao opened the 2005 season on the disabled list, was activated long enough to convert three of his four career saves, then was disabled and never returned. He has a 5.80 ERA in parts of three Major League seasons.

He was signed in 1999 to a $2.2 million bonus and underwent Tommy John elbow reconstruction in 2001. Finally healthy in 2003, he spent half of a season dominating in Double-A, then was promoted to the Major Leagues, where he made eight starts. His shoulder problems surfaced the next spring, limiting him to 9 1/3 Major League innings in 2004.

In seven professional seasons, Tsao has 63 2/3 Major League innings. Kuo, who has battled back from two Tommy John operations, has 65 Major League innings in the same seven years.

"Chin-hui was one of the more promising young relievers in the game as recently as two years ago," Colletti said. "He's battled through some difficult injuries, but at his young age we are excited about him coming to Spring Training, competing for a spot on the roster and seeing what he can do when he is healthy."

The right-hander has spent his entire big league career in the Rockies' organization, appearing in 29 games from 2003-05 and going 4-3 with four saves in those contests. The reliever was rated as Colorado's No. 1 prospect by Baseball America in 2001, 2002 and 2004, as well as being named the Rockies' Organizational Player of the Year in 2003.

Tsao became the first Taiwanese-born pitcher to appear in the Major Leagues when he made his Major League debut and won his first big-league game on July 25, 2003, against Milwaukee. He was also the first player born in Taiwan to get a hit when he doubled off New York's Steve Trachsel at Shea Stadium on Aug. 18, 2003.

Kuo was the third Taiwanese-born pitcher to make the Major Leagues when he debuted in 2005, and former Los Angeles outfielder Chin-Feng Chen was the first Taiwanese player to appear in a big-league contest when he played on Sept. 14, 2002.

A national hero in Taiwan, Tsao has represented his country in five major competitions, including the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, where he made two appearances for Chinese Taipei, compiling a 1.93 ERA and one save.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.