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Rakuten ace Tanaka wins third straight Golden Glove

Kyodo

Highly touted Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles right-hander Masahiro Tanaka captured his third consecutive Golden Glove award along with teammates Motohiro Shima and Kazuya Fujita on Thursday.

The 25-year-old Tanaka, who went 24-0 with one save and helped guide the Eagles to their first Pacific League pennant in the team’s ninth year, was chosen for his defensive prowess along with batterymate Shima and second baseman Fujita.

Rakuten won the Japan Series, beating the Yomiuri Giants four games to three, in its first trip to the championship round.

“I am very happy that I have been able to win such an honorable award,” said Tanaka, who is widely expected to try making a move to the majors during the offseason.

“I feel that it is very meaningful that I was able to win this award three years in a row. I am thankful for everyone who kept the stadiums in great conditions throughout the year.”

The Seibu Lions’ Fumiya Nishiguchi and catcher Tsutomu Ito were the last batterymates to win Golden Glove awards in the PL in 1998.

“As a position player and as a catcher, this is a valuable award to receive. It is a great honor,” said Shima.

In the Central League, the Yomiuri Giants took the lion’s share of Golden Glove awards with four for the most by one team; catcher Shinnosuke Abe, first baseman Jose Lopez, third baseman Shuichi Murata and outfielder Hisayoshi Chono each won the accolade.

“I feel as if the position of catcher is one that only through opportunities for reflection one can gain in experience. I want to devote myself with the pitchers so I can be chosen next year and the year after that,” said Giants captain Abe.

From the Hiroshima Carp, who reached their first-ever Climax Series, right-hander Kenta Maeda, second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi, and outfielder Yoshihiro Maru claimed the honors.

Seibu first baseman Hideto Asamura, Lions outfielder Shogo Akiyama, and Softbank Hawks shortstop Kenta Imamiya were among eight first-time recipients of the award.

A Golden Glove is usually awarded each year to the best player in each position, respectively, in the Central and Pacific Leagues, as voted by baseball writers.