Red Sox Close To Contract With Itsuki Shoda

The Red Sox are close to signing Japanese left-hander Itsuki Shoda to a minor league contract, reports Nikkan Sports (Japanese language link) and tweeted by NPBTracker's Patrick Newman.   As's Alex Speier translates, Sox GM Theo Epstein said the two sides are close to an agreement and Shoda will report to Boston's minor league Spring Training camp.

Shoda, 29, won the Pacific League's Rookie of the Year award in 2002 as a member of the Nippon Ham Fighters, but failed to live up to that early promise, eventually moving to Hanshin in 2007 and playing two seasons for the Tigers.  For the last two seasons, Shoda has pitched in the Chinese Professional Baseball League, posting a 3.60 ERA and a 3.35 K/BB ratio in 324 1/3 innings for the Sinon Bulls.

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