Kevin Youkilis is going to play in Japan

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Alex Speier of WEEI reports that Kevin Youkilis has reached an agreement to play for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan in 2014.

Youkilis’ 2013 season was a lost one. He signed a $12 million deal with the Yankees, but he was racked with injuries, playing in only 28 games and hitting a meager .219/.305/.343 with two homers. Youkilis hasn’t played more than 120 games since 2009, though he was a superior hitter as recently as 2011. Just a case of the guy’s body not holding up at all.

Best case: Youkilis kills the ball for Rakuten for a season and rebuilds some value for a late-career return to MLB. Worst case: Golden Eagles fans get to see a funky batting stance for a while.

Shohei Ohtani medically cleared to begin throwing progression

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The Angels released a medical update on P/DH Shohei Ohtani Thursday evening. Ohtani was reevaluated by Dr. Steve Yoon at the Kerlan Jobe Institute. The right-hander’s sprained UCL showed improved healing and, as a result, he has been cleared to begin a throwing progression.

Ohtani, 24, was diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow after his June 6 start against the Royals and hasn’t pitched since, though he has been in the lineup as a hitter since July 3. It was initially believed he would undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. Then the thought was that Ohtani wouldn’t pitch again for the rest of the season, but this update suggests a possibility he could return to the mound before the season is over.

In nine starts, Ohtani put together a 3.10 ERA with a 61/20 K/BB ratio in 49 1/3 innings. As a hitter, he batted .283/.365/.522 with seven home runs and 22 RBI in 157 plate appearances.