The Orix Buffaloes through a statement that they distributed to the media have denied the claims made by Jeremy Powell and the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.
Powell, who is at the center of a contract dispute between the two Pacific League teams, said during a recent news conference in Tokyo that he believes that an official signing did not take place between him and Orix, saying he signed a contract faxed to him by the club because he was told it would be used only for his visa application and the acquisition of his residency status.
A claim the team disputes.
“We agreed to terms with Mr. Jeremy Powell on Jan. 11 (there is an e-mail sent by his agent that says he agreed to terms as our evidence), and upon confirmation of Mr. Powell we announced his jersey number “50” at the day’s news conference,” the team said in the statement.
“Also we reserved a residence for him and put his belongings into it. What’s more, Mr. Powell sent us a contract through a fax with his own signature signed on Jan. 22 (sign date was Jan. 18) saying, “I’m looking forward to be playing at Orix again” in his own writing. And then, we obtained certification for a foreigner to stay in Japan for him from the Ministry of Justice on Jan. 25.”
The dispute started when the Hawks said they had signed a contract with Powell on Jan. 29, nearly three weeks after the Buffaloes announced the acquisition of the right-hander.
The Pacific League has said that both contracts are valid yet ruled that the Hawks hold the rights to acquire the 31-year-old pitcher, who must first serve a three-month suspension.
On Wednesday Orix, which has rejected the PL decision, filed an appeal to the Japanese baseball comissioner’s office. Orix is arguing that for the good of the Japanese baseball such an outcome cannot be allowed. The club has also called for Powell to serve a one-year suspension.
“If it (Japanese baseball) allows a player to negotiate with another club after signing with a ballclub already, it is possible that this sort of thing happens again,” the team said. “It could become a big issue for Japanese baseball, and to avoid this becoming a bad example for the future, we decided to take the suit to the commissioner, asking him for proper actions by clarifying this matter, including the facts.”
Kaz Nagatsuka contributed to this story.