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Hanshin slugger Kanemoto re-signs

OSAKA (Kyodo) Hanshin Tigers outfielder Tomoaki Kanemoto re-signed with the Central League club Thursday for an unchanged salary of ¥550 million plus performance bonuses in 2009, the last year of his three-year contract.

The richest contract so far of this offseason in Japanese baseball came after the 40-year-old slugger hit .307 with 27 homers and 108 RBIs last season while reaching 2,000 hits and 400 home runs for his career.

But Kanemoto was not satisfied with his season since his team squandered a 13-game lead to allow the Yomiuri Giants to win the league title.

“I hurt my knee late in the season and I didn’t perform well after that. I hope that our young players will step up next season and stimulate veterans so that we can beat the Giants,” Kanemoto said, referring to young Giants players who made key contributions to the team’s comeback.