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Red Sox sign Gabe Kapler


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BOSTON -- With an eye toward strengthening the bench, the Red Sox signed outfielder Gabe Kapler to a minor league contract on Tuesday.

Once regarded as arguably the premier prospect in the Tigers' organization, Kapler has yet to live up to the hype bestowed on him as he was making his way through the ranks.


Kapler will offer the Red Sox a right-handed bat off the bench and the ability to play all three outfield positions.


"He's a right-handed hitter, he's a tremendous defensive outfielder at all three positions. He's an above average runner, an above average thrower. He's a threat with the bat," Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said. "We think he can fit our club nicely. If he performs well in the minor leagues and there's a need up here, it could work out nicely."


The 27-year-old Kapler joined the Rockies at the July 31 trade deadline last season and hit .311 in 40 games. But he wasn't able to get in that kind of groove for the Rockies this season, hitting .224 with four RBIs in 39 games before being jettisoned to Triple-A Colorado Springs on June 3.


The Rockies released Kapler on June 19, citing the fact they didn't have enough playing time for him.


"As an organization we felt the release was in the best interests of Gabe," said Dan O'Dowd, Rockies Executive Vice President/General Manager, in a statement issued by the Rockies. "He is a Major League player and we could not give him a Major League opportunity."


This was a far cry from a few years ago when Kapler was viewed as such a prized commodity that the Rangers viewed him as a key piece of a blockbuster trade that sent two-time MVP Juan Gonzalez to the Tigers.


That deal came following the 1999 season. Kapler's best year was 2000, when he hit .302 with 14 HRs and 66 RBIs. He had a career-best 28-game hitting streak that year, which still ranks as the longest in Rangers history.


In 2001, he produced a career-high of 72 RBIs, though his average fell to .267.


Kapler will play for Boston's Single-A affiliate in Lowell Thursday because that is the only club playing in the area that day. He will move on to Double-A Portland for a Friday doubleheader.


Boston likely won't be far behind for Kapler.


"There have been a few situations that cropped up where we could have used a right-handed bat," Epstein said. "That's something we are on the lookout for and it may work out where Gabe has an opportunity to fill that role. "

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