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Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012

Nishioka joins Hanshin


NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo Pref. — The Hanshin Tigers announced Monday the signing of switch-hitting infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who was released from the Minnesota Twins at the end of this season.

Nishioka, 28, who walked away from the third and final year of his contract with the Twins after spending two disappointing seasons in the majors, will hold a press conference on Tuesday.

He contacted the team the previous night to say he had made up his mind to play for Hanshin. Nishioka had also been in talks with his former team the Chiba Lotte Marines and the Orix Buffaloes.

"I can breathe easy now. I am relieved," said Hanshin Tigers team president Nobuo Minami.

The speedy Nishioka joined Lotte as a first-round draft pick in 2003 and helped lead the team to two Japan Series titles.

The former Japanese All-Star played in only 71 games at the major-league level, posting a .215 batting average with 14 runs scored and 14 errors. He spent the majority of this past season in the minors.

In his rookie season in the majors, he was limited to just 68 games after breaking his left leg in a collision at second base.

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