NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo Pref. – Hanshin Tigers catcher Kenji Johjima, who underwent surgery on his left knee on Tuesday, will miss the start of the 2011 season, team sources said on Friday.
According to Hanshin chief trainer Tatsuzo Tsunekawa, Johjima will require six months to recover from a damaged meniscus, meaning he won’t be ready for the season opener on March 25 against the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.
“In order to be in top shape for next season, I decided that this would be the best time to have surgery,” said Johjima, who a day earlier became the first catcher to win a Golden Glove in both leagues in Japanese baseball.
“I will try my best in rehabilitation so that I can show fans I am in good spirits at the start of next season,” he told reporters after he was released from an Osaka prefectural hospital on Friday.
The 34-year-old former Seattle Mariners catcher complained of discomfort in his left knee toward the end of the season and later underwent a detailed examination.
“He was playing hurt at the end of the season,” Tsunekawa said. “We’ll have to make a decision after observing him.”
Johjima returned from the majors at the end of 2009. This season, he hit .303 with 28 home runs and 91 RBIs in all 144 games with Hanshin.
Nakajima speaks out
NICHINAN , Miyazaki Pref. (Kyodo) Seibu Lions All-Star shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima said Friday he has given up on using the posting system this winter to make a move to the major leagues.
“The posting is not something that is my right. The team has to OK it,” Nakajima said at Seibu’s autumn training camp. “It doesn’t matter what I say to them. Nothing will change. There’s nothing that can be done.”
Nakajima was asked again to remain with the club when he met with Seibu senior official Kosuke Maeda last Wednesday.
The 28-year-old won’t be eligible for overseas free agency for another two years. “As long as I’m playing baseball I want a chance to play over there (in the majors),” he said.
Asked whether Nakajima would have a chance to use the posting system after the 2011 season, Maeda only said: “We will make a decision at that time.”
Nakajima expressed his desire to play overseas several times during the regular season and held talks with the Pacific League club on Oct. 28.
Seibu announced the following day that Nakajima would be remaining with the club but he was not satisfied.