Outfielder wanted guaranteed playing time

BOSTON -- Gabe Kapler became the first player to leave the
World Series champion Boston Red Sox, agreeing to a one-year
contract with the Yomiuri Giants of the Japan League.

"He spent the better part of a week really agonizing over the
decision," agent Paul Cohen said Monday. "He really felt at this
point in his career, he wanted the guarantee to play."

Kapler, 29, was a backup on the Red Sox team that won the AL
wild-card berth, then came back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Yankees in the AL Championship Series. Boston swept St. Louis
in the World Series, with Kapler going 0-for-2 and appearing in all four games.

"Selfishly, [I] don't want him to go," manager Terry Francona said. "For his sake, I'm thrilled."

Kapler, among 16 Boston players who became free agents, was a
full-time player for three seasons, the last in 2001, when he
played 134 games for Texas. He joined Boston from Colorado during
the 2003 season and appeared in 63 games with the Red Sox, batting .291.

Last season, he played in 136 games but started only 73 and hit
.272 in 290 at bats.

With Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon and Trot Nixon all under
contract, the Red Sox starting outfield seems set for next season.
They also have outfielder Dave Roberts, a starter with Los Angeles
before Boston acquired him July 31.

"You would like to keep this team as pristine as you possibly
can, but we all know it's not going to happen," reliever Mike Timlin said. "We know this is a business."