FUKUOKA – Fukuoka Softbank Hawks Chief Operating Officer Takanori Takeuchi said Saturday his club will try to bring back catcher Kenji Johjima, who has decided to leave the Seattle Mariners to play in Japan.
“We’ve decided to join the race for Johjima,” Takeuchi said a day after Hanshin Tigers officials met Johjima in Fukuoka for the first time this offseason.
“We couldn’t decide earlier because we are in a difficult financial environment and we were not clear about team plans for next season. We have to admit that we’ve fallen behind in the race, but we’ll try to turn things around by showing him sincerity,” he said.
A date has yet to be set for Softbank’s meeting with Johjima.
The Hawks were eliminated by the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in the first round of the Pacific League playoffs last week.
Johjima averaged 30 home runs and 87 RBIs in the final five years of his previous 11-year career in Japan, all with the Hawks.