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Yamamoto set to manage Japan at World Baseball Classic

Kyodo

Former Hiroshima Carp skipper Koji Yamamoto has accepted the job of managing Japan at next March’s World Baseball Classic, baseball sources said Wednesday.

The appointment of Yamamoto as manager is expected to be officially announced the day after the end of Japan’s regular season on Oct. 10.

“In the coming days, I think we’ll be able to make it all clear,” said Nippon Professional Baseball commissioner Ryozo Kato, who has the final say on the choice of manager.

The next step is to select a coaching staff.

“I suspect that the man who is going to be manager has already been going over possibilities,” Kato said. “I don’t know the details of how the (selection) process will work, but the process has begun.”

Yamamoto, a 65-year-old Hall of Famer, helped the Carp capture their first Central League title in 1975 as he finished with the highest batting average in the league that season. In his playing days, he won four home run titles and three RBI titles.

Yamamoto served two five-year stints as manager of the Carp, leading them to the 1991 Central League pennant.

Under Yamamoto, the Carp had a 641-689 record. After three straight-top three finishes from 1989 to 1991, he never finished better than fourth again. He left the team for the first time when the Carp finished last in 1993, when the skipper left future superstar Tomoaki Kanemoto on the bench.

His last bench job was as fielding and base-running coach during Japan’s disastrous 2008 Beijing Olympic campaign.

Yamamoto will likely start managing the Japan in November, when two international exhibition games against Cuba are scheduled. Japan won both the 2006 and 2009 editions of the WBC, both times under the leadership of an active manager.