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Japan's Uehara eager to repay Red Sox by staying healthy

Texas Rangers relief pitcher Koji Uehara of Japan, who is currently on the disabled list, sits in the dugout against the Los Angeles Angels
Texas Rangers relief pitcher Koji Uehara of Japan, who is currently on the disabled list, sits in the dugout against the Los Angeles Angels

(Reuters) - Koji Uehara hopes his injury woes are a thing of the past so he can reward Major League Baseball's (MLB) Boston Red Sox for the faith they showed in him, the Japanese right-handed reliever said on Tuesday.

Uehara, who helped the Texas Rangers reach the 2011 World Series, missed over a month of last season with a right lat strain but still posted a stingy 1.75 earned-run average while striking out 43 batters in 36 innings.

"First, I am really grateful for the Boston Red Sox expressing the strong desire to acquire me and giving this new opportunity," Uehara, who signed a one-year contract with Boston worth a reported $4.25 million, said on the Red Sox website.

"Now it's my responsibility to meet their expectation and to give my best performance without getting injured."

Twice a winner of the Sawamura Award as the best starting pitcher in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants, Uehara has spent most of his MLB coming out of the bullpen as a closer and reliever.

The 37-year-old pitcher broke into the majors with the Baltimore Orioles in 2009 and was traded to the Rangers midway through the 2011 season.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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