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Tigers’ Johjima begins practicing

NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo Pref. (Kyodo) Hanshin Tigers catcher Kenji Johjima took part in his first full warmup on Friday on the club’s farm team since having surgery on his left knee in November last year.

Johjima, 34, received permission from doctors to squat for catching in the bullpen and practice sliding and other activities after a medical check at a hospital on Thursday.

“This is a big step forward,” said Johjima. “As long as the injury has healed, I want to try to do some things that I haven’t been able to do,” he said.

The former Seattle Mariners catcher played catch from about 60 to 70 meters and fielded ground balls near third base. Johjima is aiming to be ready for Opening Day on March 25.