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12/20/08 6:42 AM EST

Rays' Johnson to be shipped to Japan

First baseman reportedly headed to Yokohama in exchange for cash

ST. PETERSBURG -- Dan Johnson, who hit perhaps the biggest home run of the year for the Rays in 2008, could be headed for Japan.

According to a report in the St. Petersburg Times, the Rays are close to finalizing a deal that would sell Johnson's rights to the Yokohama club.

On Sept. 9, the day Johnson was selected from Triple-A Durham, he arrived at Fenway Park at game time after flight delays. In his first at-bat for the Rays, he hit a game-tying pinch-hit home run off Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon and the Rays went on to win 5-4.

Johnson, 29, was named Durham's Player of the Year after playing 113 games for the Bulls at DH, first base, third base, and left field. Hitting cleanup at Durham, Johnson hit .307 with 25 home runs and 83 RBIs.

In 10 games with the Rays, Johnson hit .200 with two home runs and four RBIs.

The Rays originally acquired Johnson when they claimed him off waivers from Oakland on April 18. He was added to the 25-man roster April 21 and was in uniform for one game before getting designated for assignment April 23 after the Rays acquired Gabe Gross from Milwaukee.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.