December 2, 2008 / 7:57 AM / 11 years ago

Japanese pitcher Tazawa set to join Red Sox

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese amateur pitcher Junichi Tazawa is poised to join luminary Daisuke Matsuzaka at the Boston Red Sox subject to a medical.

The 22-year-old, who plays for Nippon Oil’s corporate baseball team, will sign a three-year contract worth around $4 million, Japanese media reported on Tuesday.

He could be unveiled as a Red Sox player as early as Wednesday.

Tazawa had also been linked with the Texas Rangers, the Atlanta Braves and the Seattle Mariners, where outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, arguably Japan’s most famous baseball export, plays.

However, Tazawa’s desire was to follow in the footsteps of Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima after refusing to enter his name in Japan’s amateur draft in favor of Major League Baseball.

The right-hander, who boasts a fastball clocked at over 150kph in his arsenal, is likely to start his MLB career in the minor leagues.

Japan’s top pitcher Matsuzaka, christened “Dice-K” upon arriving in Boston, quickly repaid the estimated $100 million the Red Sox invested in him by helping the team win the 2007 World Series.

Reporting by Alastair Himmer; Editing by Nick Mulvenney

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