Ex-Marine Watanabe inks minor league deal with Boston

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NARITA, Japan, Dec. 15 (20:06) Kyodo

Free-agent right-hander Shunsuke Watanabe said Sunday that he
has signed a minor league contract with the World Series champion
Boston Red Sox.

The 37-year-old former Lotte Marines submariner traveled to the
United States on Thursday. He scouted the facilities in Boston and
Triple-A Pawtucket in Rhode Island before putting pen to paper on the
contract, which does not include an invitation to spring training.

Watanabe will be guaranteed to throw in four exhibition games in
the spring, however, and could join fellow Japanese pitchers Koji
Uehara and Junichi Tazawa at Fenway Park next season if all goes well.

"I signed in the locker room in Boston," Watanabe said at Narita
international airport upon his return. "Everything feels new. I'm
really excited about this latest challenge."

"I was prepared to start from the minors all long. I was worried
I might not be able to sign with anyone, but now I have an
opportunity to take a shot at the majors."

Watanabe was a member of Japan's World Baseball Classic-winning
teams in 2006 and 2009. He was 87-82 with a 3.65 ERA in 13 seasons
with the Marines.

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