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Roster moves: Japanese lefty Maekawa signed to minor league deal

You may or may not remember that, at the winter meetings, the Nationals had some interest in a Japanese lefty named Katsuhiko Maekawa, who was pitching in the Dominican Republic. Well they've signed him to a minor league deal, meaning he would have a chance to make the team in spring training, or perhaps link on with the club in Class AAA.

Also: The Padres claimed right-hander Enrique Gonzalez off waivers from the Nationals. He had been claimed by the Nationals off waivers from the Diamondbacks last year, but was moved off the 40-man roster when they signed Johnny Estrada last week.

Back to Maekawa. He went 2-1 with a 1.82 ERA for the Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican Winter League, though I'm not sure those stats are completely up to date. I'll check.

Maekawa had legal problems in Japan resulting from a hit-and-run accident. He did not pitch in Japan in 2007 because of the problems, and according to Japanese media, he had been driving without a license for as many as four years and was unofficially barred from the Japanese major leagues. He was the No. 1 draft pick by the Kinetsu Buffaloes in 1997. He's 29, and was 1-7 with a 5.26 ERA with Orix in 2006.

More info as it's available.

By Barry Svrluga  |  February 5, 2008; 2:01 PM ET
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