Hideki Okajima went back to Japan last season after spending five years with the Red Sox, but the 37-year-old reliever said recently that he’s looking to return to MLB and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the A’s are interested.
Okajima spent most of his final Red Sox season at Triple-A and would almost surely have to settle for a minor-league contract at this point, but the left-hander was ridiculously good in Japan last year with a 0.94 ERA in 48 innings for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.
His overall ERA with the Red Sox was 3.11 in 246 innings and opponents hit just .238 off Okajima. Last offseason he signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees, but it was voided because of an undisclosed physical issue and led to his returning to Japan.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.