Topic: Hideki Okajima

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Hideki Okajima (岡島 秀樹, Okajima Hideki?, born December 25, 1975 in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto) is a Japanese professional baseball pitcher with the Boston Red Sox in the United States. He played with the Yomiuri Giants and Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league from 1994-2006. He was elected to the 2007 Major League Baseball All-Star Game as a first time All-Star via the Monster All-Star Final Vote.

Okajima attended Higashiyama High School and pitched in the 1994 Koshien National High School Tournament. He was drafted in the third round in 1993 by the Yomiuri Giants of the Nippon Professional Baseball League. Okajima pitched mostly as a setup man, but sometimes played the role of a starter until 1999. When he played with the Giants in Japan, Okajima chose to go by the nickname "Okaji" instead of "Hideki" because there was Hideki Matsui, who preceded him on the Giants. Okajima's entrance song with the Giants was the Dixie Chicks' version of The Supremes' hit, "You Can't Hurry Love."

Okajima became the team's closer in 2000–2001, before returning to his setup role in 2002. He was traded to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters right before the start of the 2006 season for two position players, and was a valuable lefty setup man for the team, pitching in 55 games, with a 2.14 ERA. The Fighters won the championship that year. In Japan, Okajima had a career record of 34–32 with a 3.36 ERA.

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