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Former Red Sox closer Uehara signs with Yomiuri Giants

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TOKYO (AP) Former Major League Baseball pitcher Koji Uehara returned to his former Japanese team on Friday, agreeing to a one-year contract with the Yomiuri Giants worth $1.87 million.

The 42-year-old right-handed closer helped the Boston Red Sox win the World Series in 2013 when he was named MVP of the American League Championship Series. He spent nine seasons in MLB, compiling 95 saves and a 2.66 ERA.

Prior to going to the U.S., Uehara was a member of the Giants from 1999-2008 and was a two-time winner of the Sawamura Award, Japan’s version of the Cy Young Award.

Last season, Uehara pitched in 49 games for the Chicago Cubs, winning three, losing four and saving two with a 3.98 ERA. He did not appear in the postseason and was released after the season.

In addition to Boston and Chicago, he also played for Baltimore and Texas.

The Giants are Japan’s oldest professional team but have struggled recently, finishing fourth last season in the Central League.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.