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12/8/2012: Kensuke Tanaka, Kyuji Fujikawa, Ichiro Suzuki, Munenori Kawasaki

by on Dec.08, 2012 @ 7:23 pm, under MLB

Kensuke Tanaka left for the US out of Narita earlier today.  Before leaving, he spoke to reporters and said, "It would be nice if I can enjoy living in the US while playing in the Majors.  I will sign with any team that will give me an opportunity to play."

Tanaka will stay in the US for about two weeks.  He will undergo a physical and then head to Arizona for workouts.

Source: Nikkan Sports 12/8/2012

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Kyuji Fujikawa knew he wanted to be a Chicago Cub after meeting the team during his US visit.  From the Tribune's Paul Sullivan:

After meeting with Cubs management and sight-seeing in Chicago a couple weeks ago, Japanese reliever Kyuji Fujikawa had his mind set.

"From that day on, in my head it was Cubs, Cubs, Cubs," Fujikawa said Friday in an introductory press conference in the team's clubhouse at Wrigley Field.

Fujikawa, 32, signed a two-year, $9 million deal with a vesting option for 2015 based on games finished in 2014. Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Fujikawa's "durability" was a major factor in the Cubs' interest, despite his age. The Cubs have said they're reluctant to bid on free agents in their 30s.

... Fujikawa chose to wear No. 11, which one belonged to popular shortstop Don Kessinger, after wearing No. 22 with Hanshin in Japan.

"To have a better career than No. 22, I went younger with two 'ones,'" he explained.

And from the Chicago Sun-Times' Gordon Wittenmyer:

... "We're a big believer in his talent as well as his character, so we think he'll be a positive influence on our younger pitchers and he'll be a real stabilizer for our bullpen."

... That's no guarantee the premier closer in Japan in recent years won't be flipped at the trade deadline for prospects if the Cubs get off to a poor start and his trade value is high. He doesn't have no-trade rights.

"That's up to the team. I don't care," Fujikawa said through an interpreter.

... "In our discussions with him, it was the chance to have a meaningful role and do his job," Epstein said. "That's all he said: 'My job is not closer or setup guy; my job is to help the team and do what the manager asks of me.' And that's the only time it came up in the whole discussion."

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The Yankees are still talking to Ichiro Suzuki, according to a Jon Heyman tweet.

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Munenori Kawasaki reportedly switched agents from Tony Attanasio to Mark Pieper (SFX Baseball).  He also switched his equipment over from SSK to ASICS.  The changes are all apparently an attempt to start things fresh.  Source: Daily Sports 12/8/2012

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Former Softbank Hawk Brandon Allen signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers.

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