HIROSHIMA – Hiroshima Carp ace Kenta Maeda, who has been deactivated with an injured right side, has been cleared to return for a game against the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters on Saturday at Sapporo Dome, Carp manager Kenjiro Nomura confirmed Tuesday.
Nomura and pitching coach Yasuyuki Yamauchi said Maeda’s current condition presents no obstacles. On Monday, the right-hander threw his first bullpen since sustaining the injury, and he joined the top team for a practice at Mazda Stadium on Tuesday.
“I feel fine,” said the 25-year-old Maeda. “I just want to get myself prepared and get in the game.”
Yamauchi echoed the 2010 Sawamura Award winner’s sentiments. “Mae-ken is okay. There’s no problem,” Yamauchi said.
Maeda, Japan’s standout during its run to this year’s World Baseball Classic semifinals, has a 5-3 record with a 2.20 ERA in nine starts this season.
Carp add Ka’aihue
The Hiroshima Carp have acquired infielder Kila Ka’aihue on a one-year contract worth 35 million yen plus performance-based incentives.
The 29-year-old Hawaiian native, who mainly plays first base, is a career .221 hitter with 15 home runs and 46 RBIs in 126 games in the major leagues.
This year, Ka’aihue has played for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Triple-A Reno affiliate, where he has batted .313 with 15 homers in 53 games. The Carp, who have scored just 191 runs with 29 home runs this season — the worst in Japanese baseball — were in the market for a power-hitting foreign player.
The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters said Tuesday that second baseman Haruki Nishikawa, who has been deactivate with a left-knee injury, will require two months to make a full recovery.
The 21-year-old Nishikawa, who won the job at second this season after the departure of veteran Kensuke Tanaka to free agency over the winter, has been diagnosed with an ACL injury in his left knee in which the bone tears away from the ligament.
“I had been planning to play again soon, so hearing this diagnosis is a shock,” Nishikawa said in a statement. “I’ll focus on treatment, and hopefully I can contribute to the team once I’ve returned.”
He hurt his knee while running the bases in last Monday’s game against the DeNA BayStars and played in two games afterward before he was deactivated on Saturday.
Nishikawa, a left-handed hitter in his third year, has batted .304 with a .389 on-base percentage in 50 games this year. He has one home run, 12 RBIs and 14 stolen bases.