Former major leaguer Nishioka joins Hanshin

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NISHINOMIYA, Japan, Nov. 19 (18:59) Kyodo

The Hanshin Tigers announced Monday the signing of
switch-hitting infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who was released from the
Minnesota Twins at the end of this season.

Nishioka, 28, who walked away from the third and final year of
his contract with the Twins after spending two disappointing seasons
in the majors, will hold a press conference on Tuesday.

He contacted the team the previous night to say he had made up
his mind to play for Hanshin. Nishioka had also been in talks with
his former team the Lotte Marines and the Orix Buffaloes.

"I can breathe easy now. I am relieved," said Hanshin Tigers
team president Nobuo Minami.

The speedy Nishioka joined Lotte as a first-round draft pick in
2003 and helped lead the team to two Japan Series titles.

The former Japanese All-Star played in only 71 games at the
major-league level, posting a .215 batting average with 14 runs
scored and 14 errors. He spent the majority of this past season in
the minors.

In his rookie season in the majors, he was limited to just 68
games after breaking his left leg in a collision at second base.

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