This week, Uehara was back at Camden Yards, this time with the Texas Rangers, the club that acquired him from the Orioles for Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter at the nonwaiver trade deadline.
There were some hugs and handshakes this week, but Uehara said, he is a Ranger now.
Uehara, the former Japanese star who spent his first 21/2 big league seasons in Baltimore, didn't fare as well in two months in Texas.
A shutdown reliever with the Orioles in 2010 and 2011, Uehara was 1-2 with a 4.00 ERA in 22 games with Texas in 2011. The right-hander allowed five homers in 18 regular-season innings, three more in the postseason and was left off the Rangers' World Series roster.
"Right after I got traded, I'd have to say I was struggling a little bit," Uehara said this week through interpreter Jiwon Bang. "But now, at the end of the day, I am still being able to play baseball. That's important."
Uehara and his family still have a house in Baltimore, and he said his family chooses to live here because of the educational opportunities for his 6-year-old son.
"My family thinks strongly about my kid's education," he said. "So that comes first."
There was talk this offseason that the Orioles might be interested in reacquiring Uehara, since he didn't necessarily have a role with the Rangers and the Orioles needed bullpen help. It never materialized.
"I don't believe in rumors, so until it is official, I can't believe [rumors] that are going on," he said.
He downplayed his interest in returning to the Orioles.
"That's not my decision to make. I would play for anyone," he said. "Whoever wants me."
Uehara, 37, seems to be returning to the form that allowed him to dominate in the second half of 2010 — when he had 13 saves — and in the first four months of 2011, when he posted a 1.80 ERA for the Orioles.
In 10 games with the Rangers this season, Uehara has allowed just two runs on five hits in 10 innings while striking out 11. He hasn't walked anyone. He pitched a scoreless inning against the Orioles on Tuesday, but his streak of 18 consecutive batters retired was broken when Robert Andino singled against him in the seventh.
"I am getting there," he said. "Feeling better."
Uehara said he still checks Orioles box scores frequently and keeps in contact with some former teammates through email. He also acted as an impromptu adviser to Tsuyoshi Wada, speaking to the Japanese lefty after he signed a two-year deal with the Orioles in December.
"Just [talked about] off the field stuff," Uehara said, "that my wife and family are here. If they needed any help, we would be glad to help them out."
Wada never moved to Baltimore. He had been in extended spring in Sarasota, Fla., for much of the past two months and will have season-ending elbow ligament surgery Friday. Uehara said he called Wada when he heard the news and "he sounded disappointed."
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