Athletics introduce Hiroyuki Nakajima

Ezra Shaw

The Japanese shortstop should fit right in with the multicultural A's

There is a mutual trust between the Oakland Athletics and free agent Hiroyuki Nakajima. The A's promised the former Nippon Professional Baseball player that he could be an everyday shortstop, and Nakajima has promised to deliver. The A's introduced their biggest offseason signing Tuesday, reporting a two-year, $6.5 million had been signed. The San Jose Mercury News' Carl Steward covered the introduction and the Nakajima's reaction.

The A's were in early on the 30-year-old shortstop and had to fend off other teams in order to land him. "The more things we uncovered and the longer we got into the winter, the more we realized this was the guy," A's GM Billy Beane said. "We were a little concerned early on that the competition might make it challenging for us financially." Other teams -- reportedly the Yankees were one of them -- were said to be seeking Nakajima as a part-time player. But the A's saw a chance to land the former Seibu Lion by agreeing to give him a starting gig.

Nakajima spent 11 years playing professionally in Japan despite being just 30 years old. He regularly played every game of Nippon's 144-game schedule, leading the A's to believe he is a durable player.

"Our doctors were impressed what kind of physical shape he was in," said Beane. "They raved about his fitness."

Where Nakajima fits in the grand scheme of Oakland A's history has yet to be seen, but for now he fits well in Oakland's diverse clubhouse.

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