Koji Uehara had lived several chapters of a long life in baseball well before he signed as a free agent with the Red Sox in December 2012.
Uehara had been a standout starter and star closer for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan before coming to the U.S. in 2009 as a starter for the Baltimore Orioles.
He soon moved to the bullpen and was a solid setup man, but missed much of the 2012 season with a strained muscle in his right side.
Uehara wound up as the closer for the Red Sox on the way to a World Series title in 2013, earning MVP honors in their ALCS win over the Detroit Tigers for throwing six scoreless innings in five appearances with a win and three saves.
He followed that up with an All-Star appearance in 2014, at age 39, before moving back into a setup role in 2016.
Uehara left to sign with the Chicago Cubs as a free agent in December 2016. A free agent last winter, Uehara returned to Japan to pitch for the Giants once more.
Like many Asian pitchers, Uehara combined a solid fastball with a wide array of off-speed stuff coupled with the ability to throw every pitch from multiple arm slots. Looking at a sidearm slider followed immediately by an overhand curve can be tough on a hitter.
In four seasons with Boston, Uehara was 14-13 with a 2.19 ERA and 0.810 WHIP, an ERA+ of 192 and 291 strikeouts in just 226 innings over 230 appearances. He saved 79 games as well.