Editor’s note: NESN.com is holding a three-week tournament to determine “Boston’s Best Newcomer.” The Red Sox added a lot of new faces in 2013, and the results have been impressive. It’s time to determine which new addition from 2013 best embodies Boston baseball.
Koji Uehara enjoyed a successful career in Japan and had since evolved into one of Major League Baseball’s most reliable setup men. No one could have envisioned what he had in store upon signing with the Red Sox, though.
Uehara inked a one-year, $4.25 million deal — with an option for 2014 that has since vested — with the Red Sox back in December amid a busy offseason for Boston. It was an under-the-radar signing at the time, and it became even more underrated once the Sox dealt for closer Joel Hanrahan. Much of the talk surrounded Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey — who had been placed into a setup role following the trade with the Pirates — as well as Daniel Bard‘s rollercoaster career. Uehara figured to pitch in the middle innings.
Uehara’s first appearance with the Red Sox came on Opening Day, and he pitched a scoreless sixth inning. (That’s right, sixth inning.) He soon became more of a later innings guy, and he has since become the closer in the wake of injuries to both Hanrahan and Bailey. It’s been an eventful ride for Uehara, but he’s been successful every step of the way.
Vote for “Bostons’ Best Newcomer” at the matchup links below.