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Ex-Carp Nomura excited about new challenge as team’s skipper

Kyodo

The Hiroshima Carp on Wednesday announced the appointment of Kenjiro Nomura as manager for next season.

The 43-year-old former Carp infielder has signed a one-year contract and will become the youngest of 12 Japanese baseball club managers.

“I’m so excited,” Nomura said. “I’ll try to win the Central League and Japan Series titles. I don’t want to see players satisfied with a Climax Series berth.”

Nomura will take over from American Marty Brown, whose hopes of extending his stay at the club ended after Hiroshima was eliminated from contention for the third and final Central League playoff spot.

Hiroshima needed to reach the postseason for Brown to earn a new deal. The team ended the campaign in fifth place.

Nomura ranks 34th on the all-time hits list in Japan with 2,020.

He was a .285 career hitter with 169 homers, 765 RBIs and 250 stolen bases in 17 years through 2005, all with Hiroshima.

The Carp have finished in the bottom half of the six-team standings for 12 years in a row.

Okada’s goals

OSAKA (Kyodo) New Orix Buffaloes manager Akinobu Okada hopes that he can reverse the team’s fortunes.

“I spent the last two years of my professional career with Orix. I also started my coaching career at Orix. I’ve wanted to repay my debt to this club,” Okada said at a press conference at Kyocera Dome.

Orix introduced the 51-year-old Okada as successor to Daijiro Oishi, less than a week after the team ended its disappointing season. Orix dropped to last place this season from second in 2008.

Okada has been working as a commentator this year after managing the Hanshin Tigers for five years through 2008.

“There are only 12 managers in Japanese baseball, so I’m honored to become one of them,” Okada said. “I don’t see a massive power gap among the 12 clubs. I know every team says its goal is to win a title. But at this point, I’m afraid to say that.”

He plans to put emphasis on defense led by pitchers and catchers, as he did for the Tigers, who won the Central League title in 2005 under Okada.

Kikuchi update

Kyodo News

Highly touted Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi is set to have direct talks with all 12 domestic clubs and eight major league clubs starting Friday, his Hanamaki Higashi High School said Wednesday.

Kikuchi, accompanied by manager Hiroshi Sasaki, is scheduled to talk with the Seibu Lions, the Hanshin Tigers, the Orix Buffaloes and the Yomiuri Giants on Friday and the other eight Japanese clubs the following day. Each club will have 30 minutes.

On Monday, the 18-year-old will talk with four major league clubs, including the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox, while the New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners are among the other four on the list for Tuesday.

Nippon Professional Baseball has demanded Kikuchi not receive an offer from any major league clubs before Japan’s amateur draft on Oct. 29.

Japanese clubs are not allowed to table their offers before the draft, while there is no such rule for major league clubs.

Last year, Junichi Tazawa refused to be named in the Japanese draft and signed a three-year deal with the Boston Red Sox — the first such move by a top Japanese amateur player.

Kikuchi helped Hanamaki Higashi of Iwate Prefecture to a runnerup finish at the National High School Invitational Tournament in April and to the semifinals in the national championship at Koshien Stadium in August.

His fastball clocked as high as 154 kph in the third round of the national championship, the fastest pitch ever thrown by a left-hander since the radar gun began being used in National High School Baseball Tournament in 1980.

Greisinger doubtful KYODO Yomiuri Giants right-hander Seth Greisinger might be left out of the rotation for the Central League playoffs after hurting his pitching elbow again on Wednesday.

Greisinger was going to pitch against eight teammates in a simulated game at Tokyo Dome but left with a right elbow strain after throwing two pitches to the fourth batter.

Greisinger said he did not want to aggravate the injury and whether he will be able to start in the second stage of the Climax Series, which begins Oct. 21, depends on his progress during treatment.

But pitching coach Takao Obana was pessimistic about Greisinger recovering quickly, saying, “I don’t think we can count him in.”

Greisinger went 13-6 with a 3.47 ERA in 25 starts this season.