Fighters, Tigers swap pitchers


Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters lefty Itsuki Shoda has been traded to the Hanshin Tigers for right-hander Takehito Kanazawa, the teams announced Tuesday.

It appeared to be a perfect match as the Fighters had been in the market for someone like Kanazawa who can join the starting rotation or pitch out of the bullpen, while the Tigers want to reinforce their pitching staff with a left-hander. The 25-year-old Shoda led Kiryu Ichi High School to the national championship at the summer high school tournament in 1999 and joined Nippon Ham the following year as its No. 1 draft pick before winning the Rookie of the Year with a 9-11 record in 2002.

Shoda, however, has struggled as of late and did not make any mound appearances on the top team last season. The 188-cm Kanazawa, 28, joined Hanshin as a No. 2 draft pick in 1999 and had 50 mound appearances in 2002. He has pitched mainly as a middle reliever.