Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/18/12
OAKLAND -- The Oakland Athletics introduced Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima at a press conference Tuesday after finalizing a two-year contract, with a club option for a third year, earlier in the day. The A's signed the 30-year-old Japan League veteran to fill the void at shortstop created by the departures of Cliff Pennington and Stephen Drew. "When we finished the season, we knew we didn't need to make many changes," general manager Billy Beane said. "One area we knew we had to replace was shortstop. This is a gentleman we have been watching for a couple of years. "The more things we uncovered the longer we got into the winter, the more we realized this was the guy," Beane added. "We were a little concerned early on the competition might make it challenging for us financially. But as pieces started laying down with other clubs and positions were filled, I think that helped us." Nakajima leaves the Japanese League after 11 seasons with the Pacific League's Seibu Lions, where he had a .302 career batting average, 738 RBIs and hit 162 home runs. He was an eight-time All-Star and a three-time Gold Glove winner. "Earlier in my career in Japan, I thought of myself as an offensive player,” said Nakajima through an interpreter. "The past couple of years, I have put a priority on my defense skills. At this point, I feel like I am balanced. I love playing defense." Nakajima showed character at the start of the press conference, opening with his own statement that he practiced in English. "Hi Oakland. My name is Hiroyuki Nakajima but you can call me Hero. I'm honored to be here today and very thankful for everyone coming today. Thank you very much, Mr. Beane.” Nakajima later shared through an interpreter that he signed with Oakland primarily due to its reputation of having team chemistry. "I heard a lot about it," he said. "Part of the reason they made it to the postseason was team chemistry, youth and energy. I'm fascinated and excited to be part of that." It was the second straight year that the A's added a highly regarded international player after Oakland signed Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes last season.
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