BOSTON (AP) — Former Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka passed along some advice to Masataka Yoshida, another Japanese star who made the trip to Fenway Park.
“His advice to me: Boston is really cold,” the 29-year-old outfielder said through a translator on Thursday after he signed a five-year, $90 million deal with the Red Sox. “Obviously, you have to bring your jacket.”
Yoshida won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics and twice led Japan's Pacific League in batting. He also helped Orix to a victory in the Japan Series in October, homering twice in Game 5 — including a walk-off as the Buffaloes rallied from a ninth-inning deficit.
“I have been a champion in Japan,” he said. “Next season, I would like to contribute to your world championship for the Red Sox.”
Yoshida has a .326 average with a .419 on-base percentage in seven seasons in Japan, all with Orix.
He greeted the Boston media on Thursday by explaining — in English — that he doesn't speak English.
“So, nervous,” he said. “I want to learn English and I want to speak it my daughters. I am honored to be in Red Sox Nation. I will do my best. Thank you.”
Yoshida is Boston’s biggest signing from Japan since the 2007 acquisition of pitcher Matsuzaka, the focus of a bidding war that ended when the Red Sox paid $51 million for the right to negotiate with him, then signed him to a deal worth about $52 million more.
Word of Yoshida's signing first emerged at the winter meetings at the same time that free agent shortstop Xander Bogaerts agreed to leave the Red Sox and join the San Diego Padres. Bogaerts had been the cornerstone of Boston’s offseason plans.
To make room for Yoshida on the roster, Boston designated infielder Jeter Downs for assignment. Downs had been acquired in the trade that sent former AL MVP Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.
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