Tazawa Gets The Nod For Red Sox

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Tazawa Gets The Nod For Red Sox
(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
With the unfortunate departure of future Hall-of-Famer John Smoltz, the Red Sox find themselves one starter too few in their once-crowded rotation. The Sox have announced they will turn to 23-year-old Junichi Tazawa to fill in. Tazawa will make his first Major League start against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday.

The relatively unknown Japanese import has the dubious distinction of surrendering the two-run homer to Alex Rodriguez that capped the first epic Sox-Yankees battle at the new Yankee Stadium. Tazawa’s first big league appearance was in a scoreless game against the Yankees, a situation which is roughly equivalent to being thrown to a pack of wolves with nothing but a butter knife.

Because of this, the specifics of Tazawa’s arrival to the Red Sox have been overshadowed and are relatively unknown. Born in Yokohama, Japan, Tazawa started his amateur career after graduating from the Yokohama College of Commerce.

Boston signed the righty to a three-year deal in '08 after he logged four seasons with the Nippon Oil ENEOS of the Japan Industrial League. Tazawa posted a 1.99 ERA in 176.2 innings with the ENEOS.

Since coming to Boston, Tazawa has put up solid numbers in the minor leagues. He has a combined ERA of 2.55, spending time with the Double-A and Triple-A clubs. He struck out 94 batters and walked only 27 in 109.1 innings of work, holding batters to a .219 average.

Despite the good numbers, the Sox are taking somewhat of a risk with Tazawa. He pitched only 11.1 innings for the Pawtucket Red Sox and just endured one of the most stressful call-ups imaginable.

A more proven option for the Red Sox rotation is Pawtucket ace Michael Bowden. The righty has tossed 103 innings for the Pawsox this season, striking out 74 and posting a nifty 3.40 ERA.

At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, Bowden is much more imposing and durable than the smaller Tazawa. He appears better suited to handle the rigors of pitching to major-league batters.

Bowden may be called up further down the line, but for now the Red Sox have placed their trust in Tazawa. On Tuesday, he will have the chance to make a new identity for himself.

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