Pierce Johnson
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Pierce Johnson to pitch for Hanshin Tigers

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Right-handed reliever Pierce Johnson has signed a contract with the Hanshin Tigers of Nippon Professional Baseball, the pitcher announced Saturday. Johnson cleared waivers in November and elected free agency after completing a one-year run in San Francisco.

The 27-year-old righty was initially selected by the Cubs in the first round of the 2012 draft and worked his way up to the majors before getting claimed off of waivers by the Giants in 2017. He made his sophomore debut at the start of the 2018 season and acquired an ungainly 5.56 ERA, 4.5 BB/9, and 7.4 SO/9 through 43 2/3 innings with the club. Altogether, he’s compiled just 44 2/3 major-league innings across two seasons in Chicago and San Francisco, and will seek to improve on disappointing totals when he switches over to Japan’s premier baseball league in 2019.

The details of Johnson’s contract with the Tigers has yet to be announced, nor is it clear whether or not he plans to make an eventual return to MLB. Former major leaguers to make recent appearances for the Tigers include right-handers Diego Moreno and Rafael Dolis and first baseman Efren Navarro.

Dustin Pedroia going back on injured list

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Welp, that didn’t last long. Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is going back on the injured list with more knee issues. If it matters the Sox say it’s not a big deal and they expect him back sooner rather than later, but they also said that his post-2017 knee surgery was just a “cleanup” at first and that basically cost him a year. So.

Pedroia has played in six games and is 2-for-20 with a walk.

I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that Pedroia’s career may be nearing an end. Sure, he’s under contract for two more years after this season, but he’s also in a unfortunate spiral that so many players experience in their mid-to-late 30s.

Running a website like this makes it all the clearer, actually. When you search a player’s name in our CMS, you get every post in which he appears in reverse chronological order. Just about every long-tenured player ends with about six posts in which he is alternately placed on and activated from the disabled/injured list. Then an offseason link to a big feature in which he’s written about as being “at a crossroads” followed by something vague about “resuming baseball activities” and then, inevitably, the retirement announcement. I can’t count the number of guys whose careers I can tick off in that way by browsing the guts of this site.

I hope that’s not the case for Pedroia. I hope that there’s a “Pedroia wins Comeback Player of the Year” post in the future. Or at the very least a silly “Miller’s Crossing” reference in an “And that Happened” in which I say “the old man’s still an artist with the Thompson” after he peppers the ball around in some 3-for-4, two-double game. I want that stuff to happen.

It’s just that, if you watch this game long enough, you realize how unlikely that is once a player starts to break down.