It took a couple of months longer than he expected, but Kanekoa Texeira signed a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds on Monday.
"I feel like I had a great year last year and I feel like I can go get better than I was last year," the former Kula resident, who will turn 27 on Wednesday, said via telephone from his home in Seattle.
Texeira, a Kamehameha Schools Kapalama graduate and former major leaguer with the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals, expects to be assigned to the Triple-A Louisville Bats of the International League. Last season in Louisville, the right-hander was 0-3 with a 2.72 ERA, one save and 35 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings.
‘I feel like I had a great year last year and I feel like I can go get better than I was last year.’
– Kanekoa Texeira
JAMES WEST photo
He will return with one thing in mind.
"Absolutely, I want to get back to the big leagues, there's not a doubt in my mind that I can play," he said. "It's just the timing and the chance to get back there, so this is a start."
Texeira said that he had to deal with an oblique injury last season, "but I feel good now, 100 percent. I worked hard this offseason, so we will see if that pays off."
Texeira has a 1-1 record and 4.66 ERA over 49 major league appearances with Seattle and Kansas City from the 2010 and 2011 seasons. This will be the first time since 2008 that he will not be in a major league spring training camp.
"I'm happy to have a job and continue to play," he said. "It was getting close, I was getting a little worried. Now, I'm excited and glad to keep going."
He thinks the oblique injury is the reason he did not get a call earlier this offseason.
"I'm not going to big league camp for the first time in a while, a little weird, but it's also a wake-up call," Texeira said. "It's good just to have a job. I was pretty surprised, but it is what it is. It's a business, I guess that's just how it works. The goal for me this year is to stay healthy. I guess that's why it took forever to sign, I got injured a little bit last year."
The 6-foot-2 Texeira said he weighs about 210 pounds, right where he wants to be.
After Texeira was granted free agency in November of 2011 from the New York Yankees organization, he signed with the Reds six weeks later. Following last season, he was granted free agency on Nov. 3.
Texeira said his agent, Matt Hannaford, "was just as mind-boggled as I was" about the wait this time.
"We thought I had a good year and would have had a job earlier. We were all surprised that it took so long, but I got a job again, so I have just got to prove myself again - it's the only way you can do it."
Texeira has been with six organizations, including the Yankees twice. He was drafted in the 22nd round by the Chicago White Sox in 2006 out of Saddleback (Calif.) Junior College.
"The last four years I have been jumping around like crazy," he said. "So for me it is good to go back to a place I know. I know all the coaches and most of the players, I guess, so I think that will help."
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com