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A name to know: Kawakami

Posted by Adam Kilgore, Globe Staff  December 9, 2008 11:34 AM

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Don't expect anything serious to percolate this week, but the Red Sox could become a primary pursuer of Japanese pitcher Kenshin Kawakami, a 33-year-old righthander who has pitched for the Chunichi Dragons for 11 seasons. Kawakami is a free agent and wants to play in America; he signed with agent Daniel Evans (a former Los Angeles Dodgers general manager) just before Thanksgiving this year.

Evans stressed that it's too early to gauge which teams -- or even how many teams -- will be seriously interested in Kawakami. But he and his staff have been reaching out across the league and speaking with various clubs. "Right now," he said, "it's more fact-finding than anything else."

Because of their aggressive and successful track record in signing Japanese players, the Red Sox are "obviously one of the more intriguing teams," Evans said. The Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Angels appear to be potential suitors as well.

Kawakawi, 33, projects as a middle- or back-of-the-rotation starter. He is one of the top Japanese league's most accomplished pitchers, having won the league's equivalent of the Cy Young and the Central League MVP in 2004. The three-time Gold Glove winner is noted for his athleticism. Evans discovered Kawakami as a Dodgers scout in 2002, and he immediately became convinced the pitcher's stuff will translate to MLB.

"He's done everything that can be done there," Evans said.

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