Ishii was selected in the first round of the 1991 Japanese amateur draft by the Yakult Swallows. He made his debut in the Central League on June 9, 1992 at the age of 18. He was a member of the Japan Series winning team that season, a feat accomplished a total of five times during his career with the Swallows. During his ten years playing in Japan, he amassed a record of 78-46 with a 3.38 ERA and 1,277 strikeouts in 1,184 innings pitched. On September 2, 1997, he threw a no-hitter against the Yokohama BayStars.
Ishii was signed as a free agent by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2002 after the Dodgers posted the top bid for the right to negotiate with him. He made his major league debut on April 6, 2002 striking out ten batters and allowing two hits and no runs in five and two-thirds innings against the Chicago Cubs. He went on to win his first six starts and was named National League Rookie of the Month for April, 2002.
On September 8, 2002, Ishii was struck in the face by a ball hit by Brian Hunter of the Houston Astros. Ishii underwent emergency surgery for a nasal fracture wherein he had bone chips removed and replaced with a small titanium plate. He did not pitch again that season.
During 2003 and 2004, Ishii developed a reputation as a much better pitcher in the first half of seasons. In his three years in the major leagues, Ishii was 29-15 with a 3.50 ERA prior to the All-Star break, but only 7-13 with a 5.77 ERA after. Ishii is also known for his control problems, yielding 305 walks in 473 innings. He was among the top five in walks allowed each of his three seasons in the National League.
In March, 2005, the New York Mets acquired Ishii in exchange for catcher Jason Phillips to replace injured starting pitcher Steve Trachsel. After posting a record of only 3-9 with an ERA over five, the Mets released him the following December.
He currently pitches for the Saitama Seibu Lions in the Japanese Pacific League.
Read more about this topic: Kazuhisa Ishii
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