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Cardinals release veteran Taguchi

Cardinals release Taguchi

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Cardinals have decided to release So Taguchi, ending the outfielder's six-year tenure as a member of the St. Louis organization.

Taguchi was let go in order to clear space on the 40-man roster, which had been at full capacity. By opening up a spot, the Cardinals are now able to make a selection in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning at baseball's annual Winter Meetings.

Taguchi, 38, signed with the Cardinals before the 2002 season after a lengthy and successful career in Japan, where he won five Gold Gloves. The initial transition to American baseball was extremely difficult, however. He struggled in Spring Training and was sent as low as Double-A in '02. Taguchi spent most of '03 at Triple-A Memphis, but in 2004 he established himself as a valuable reserve. He hasn't been back to the Minors since '04.

In parts of six seasons with the Cardinals, Taguchi batted .283 with a .336 on-base percentage and a .391 slugging percentage. He became a fan favorite for his high-effort style of play and the perception that he has been a player who gets the most from his ability -- not to mention an excellent showing in the 2006 postseason.

He may be best known for his tie-breaking home run in Game 2 of the '06 National League Championship Series. Taguchi hit a solo shot off Billy Wagner in the ninth inning, starting a three-run rally in the 9-6 win.

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

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