Right-hander Koji Uehara praised the Boston Red Sox’s busy offseason on Friday, when he met reporters in Tokyo.
“I think it’s going to be a really good team,” Uehara said of the Red Sox, who finished last in the American League East this year after winning the World Series the year before. “I want to do what I can to make sure I’m ready for the start of the season.”
Starting in November, the Red Sox acquired a pair of free agent infielders, third baseman Pablo Sandoval and shortstop Hanley Ramirez. In November, Boston traded for a pair of middle-rotation starters, 25-year-old right-hander Rick Porcello and 28-year-old lefty Wade Miley.
Uehara went straight back to work after returning to Japan and is said to be already fit to resume throwing in the bullpen.
Acquired by Boston after being released by the Texas Rangers following the 2012 season, Uehara became the Red Sox closer almost by default in 2013 and soon proved to be one of the best in the business in that role. Uehara, who will turn 40 in April, received a two-year contract to stay with Boston through the 2016 season.
“I’m grateful,” he said. “I believe I am indebted to the team and I want to do my best to repay that.”
Although he had some injury issues as the season wore on and slumped a bit, manager John Farrell has already named Uehara his closer for next season.
“That’s probably just lip service,” Uehara said. “Although I’m getting a good salary, regular jobs aren’t etched in stone. I want to compete consistently. My intent is to win the (closer) role.”
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