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NEW YORK: The Nolan Ryan of Japan is headed to Columbus. The New York Yankees optioned Hideki Irabu to their Triple-A Columbus team for more seasoning after it became clear that he isn't ready for prime time. "He's going to Columbus to get things ironed out in a less strenuous atmosphere," general manager Bob Watson explained. Irabu, whom the Yankees signed to a $12.8 million contract, gave up six runs and four hits in only two innings Saturday in a 9-7 loss to Seattle. He threw just 41 pitches and was booed as he left the mound. By attracting ten and fifteen thousand more fans than average, Irabu has shown George Steinbrenner that he may be worth every penny. But first he's got to find either his confidence or his reputed 100-mile-an-hour fastball.