Red Sox near deal with Japanese left-hander Itsuki Shoda

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Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker passes along a Nikkan Sports report which says the Red Sox are expected to sign Japanese left-hander Itsuki Shoda to a minor league contract.

Alex Speier of WEEI.com translates the report, where Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein is quoted as saying a deal is near completion and that Shoda will report to minor league camp.

Shoda, 29, won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2002 after going 9-11 with a 3.45 ERA as a member of the Nippon Ham Fighters, but has had a difficult time replicating his early success. He was eventually traded to the Hanshin Tigers following the 2006 season, where he spent two seasons in the minor leagues. The southpaw has spent the past two seasons in Taiwan as a member of the Sinon Bulls. He went 11-5 with a 2.81 ERA last season, striking out 116 batters over 166 1/3 innings. As Speier notes, he is regarded as a curveball specialist.

Brewers place Eric Thames on disabled list with torn UCL in left thumb

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On Wednesday, the Brewers placed first baseman Eric Thames on the 10-day disabled list with a torn UCL in his left thumb. In a corresponding roster move, the Brewers recalled pitcher Brandon Woodruff from Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Thames, 31, exited Tuesday’s game against the Royals before the bottom of the ninth inning. After the game, manager Craig Counsell expressed concern about his thumb. As MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports, Brewers GM David Stearns says that surgery is likely but not definite, but that he expects Thames to be back for a “significant” portion of the 2018 season.

Thames was hitting quite well for the Brewers, owning a .250/.351/.625 triple-slash line along with seven home runs and 13 RBI in 74 plate appearances. Jesus Aguilar should handle first base while Thames is out. Ryan Braun could also see some action at first base.