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The Hanshin Tigers have set off on a quest to sign infielder Andy Sheets, who is expected to be released by the Hiroshima Carp shortly, baseball sources said Monday.

The Tigers are said to have switched their foreign-player target to the 32-year-old Sheets after hearing that the Chunichi Dragons have offered more than they did to first-choice acquisition Tyrone Woods, co-holder of the 2004 Central League home-run title.

Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes right-hander Kevin Beirne is also on the Tigers’ wish list, sources said.

In other baseball news: Chunichi Dragons infielder Masahiro Araki re-signed with the Nagoya-based Central League club Tuesday for an annual salary of 90 million yen, double the amount he received this past season. Araki, 27 and batted .292 with 44 RBIs and 39 stolen bases this season, helping the Dragons clinch the CL pennant. He was also named to the “Best Nine” team as the best second baseman in the league.

Also: Former Meiji University right-hander Yasuhiro Ichiba, who received money from several pro baseball clubs in violation of draft eligibility rules, concluded the signing of a provisional contract with the newly formed Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles on Tuesday. Rakuten general manager Marty Kuehnert and Isao Hirono, in charge of Rakuten player acquisition, met with Ichiba at the Meiji University baseball facility.

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