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Kokubo reveals Japan squad for Taiwan games

Kyodo

Hiroki Kokubo named his first squad as Japan manager on Monday, a young party of 25 for next month’s exhibition games against Taiwan.

Kokubo, who succeeded Koji Yamamoto earlier this month, will add players from the two teams in the Japan Series, the Yomiuri Giants and the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, once the series ends.

Kokubo’s team is highlighted by Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters slugger Sho Nakata, who played in this year’s World Baseball Classic, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows’ rookie 16-game winner Yasuhiro Ogawa and the Seibu Lions’ Hideto Asamura, this season’s Pacific League leader in RBIs.

Kokubo picked four players from the corporate and university leagues, including the Hiroshima Carp’s No. 1 draft pick, right-hander Daichi Osera of Kyushu Kyoritsu University.

“It’s simply an honor to be a part of the new Samurai Japan team,” Nakata said. “I hope I can help us win, to show how strong we are.”

Japan plays three games in Taipei from Nov. 8 to 10, its first games since being eliminated in the WBC semifinals in March.