ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals confirmed on Friday that they have signed Japanese pitcher Katsuhiko Maekawa to a Minor League contract. Maekawa will not receive an invitation to Major League Spring Training.

Maekawa, 30, is a left-hander who has mostly pitched as a starter in Japan. According to japanesebaseball.com, he went 31-45 over 149 career appearances for the Kintetsu Buffaloes, Hanshin Tigers and Orix Blue Wave. He has a 5.26 lifetime ERA in the Japanese major leagues, with 417 strikeouts and 345 walks in 609 innings.

Maekawa last pitched for Orix in 2006, going 1-7 with a 4.37 ERA in a season split between starting and relief.

He agreed to a deal with the Washington Nationals before the 2008 season, but it fell through when his work visa was denied. According to multiple reports, Maekawa's visa troubles stemmed from a hit-and-run incident in Japan in 2007.