Hideki Okajima will be returning to Boston with a 1-year deal that's apparently less than what he made last season (US$2.75M). Sponichi figures stability for his family was a big factor in him staying in Boston.
If Ichiro Suzuki records an 11th straight season of 200+ hits, he'll break the record he currently shares with Pete Rose (11 consecutive seasons). And if he leads both leagues in hits this year, he'll surpass both Rose and Ty Cobb with 8.
Daisuke Matsuzaka's goal for the upcoming season is to secure a spot in the starting rotation and pitch in more innings than he did last year.
via Nikkan Sports: ESPN reports that the San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Minnesota Twins could be interested in Kenshin Kawakami. The Bleacher Report mentions the Washington Nationals, Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles and San Diego Padres as being names mentioned in what is probably the same report.
via Nikkan Sports: Koji Uehara hopes to win the closing job with the Baltimore Orioles, via a post on his blog. Sponichi notes that Uehara considered retirement at one point last season (some time before the summer).
Hiroki Kuroda wanted a 1-year deal because he felt he wouldn't be aggressive enough with a multi-year deal.
Sponichi mentions that Tsuyoshi Nishioka will be the fifth Japanese position player from the NPB to play in the Majors this year. The other four: Kazuo Matsui, Norihiro Nakamura, Tadahito Iguchi, and Akinori Iwamura. Matsui, Iguchi, and Iwamura also had the following advice for Nishioka:
Matsui - If he's going to play second, he'll need to be careful about the runners coming down hard at second. That's really dangerous. And just once, I'd like to see a Japanese infield win a gold glove.
Iguchi - He'll be playing on natural grass, so he won't get as tired. He'll be able to play as hard as he wants. But, there are more games and he'll be playing in the cold weather of Minneapolis, so he'll really need to be careful about his body. Nishioka is pretty good about turning the page so I think he'll be ok mentally. The best thing for him will be to win over the fans and get them on his side.
Iwamura - I'd like to see him go all out now that he's got his dream chance. If he plays normally, he'll do just fine. Minneapolis is cold, but if he can stay away from injuries, [the Twins] should be a good fit for him. He should play [in the US] until he's fully satisfied.
Nishioka will also be the youngest of the group.