Kawakami Aims To Impress In Return To Chunichi

Kawakami aims to impress in return to ChunichiBack with his old team after a three-year humbling in the major leagues, Kenshin Kawakami is setting out to regain his status as the Chunichi Dragons' ace.

''I would like to make my presence felt in the startingrotation,'' said Kawakami, who returns to Chunichi for the first time in four years, ahead of the 2011 Central League champion's spring training camp in Okinawa getting under way Wednesday.

Kawakami, 36, signed a one-year contract worth 30 million yen, plus performance bonuses -- a far cry from his 2011 salary of $6.67 million.

''I had been in touch with a lot of my teammates from Chunichi, so I don't feel like we've been separated that long,'' said Kawakami, who will get his old No. 11 jersey.

In all, Kawakami went 8-22 with a 4.32 ERA in 50 appearances, including 41 starts, in two seasons with the Atlanta Braves and spent the final season of a three-year contract with the Braves in the minor leagues.

The Tokushima native will also use spring training to work on healing his strained right shoulder and, with any luck, aims to be the Opening Day pitcher of the 2012 season.

''I want to give my all in spring training, so I can even be considered a candidate for Opening Day. I want to distinguish myself in preseason games.''