Outfielder Tani to play for Buffaloes

Kyodo

Veteran outfielder Yoshitomo Tani, who has been released by the Yomiuri Giants, will join the Orix Buffaloes in 2014, the Pacific League club said Tuesday.

The 40-year-old Tani makes his way back to his former club after a seven-year stint with Japan’s most storied franchise. Tani, who needs 79 hits to reach his 2,000-hit milestone, is scheduled to speak at a news conference on Dec. 26.

The husband of former two-time Olympic judo champion and current politician Ryoko Tani, Tani began his career with Orix in 1997 after being selected in the second round of the draft. Back in 2003, he won the PL title for most hits with 189.

He joined the Giants in 2007 but has seen a gradual decrease in playing time in recent years. This past season, Tani was limited to just 13 games.

Maeda eyes majors

Hiroshima Carp right-hander Kenta Maeda told his club Tuesday he hopes to play in the major leagues in the near future.

The 25-year-old Maeda, who was at Mazda Stadium for talks on a renewal of his contract, told reporters that he is definitely thinking of a move to the big leagues.

“You only have one career in baseball. I want to be able go, when I feel I am ready to make the challenge,” said Maeda.

The Osaka native was named in the first round of the high school draft from baseball powerhouse PL Gakuen High School in 2007 and won the prestigious Sawamura Award in 2010.

He went 15-7 with a 2.10 ERA in 26 starts this season, the fourth consecutive season he has notched double-digit wins. It was the second year in a row that Maeda won the ERA title.

The Carp ace led his team to a third-place finish and its first Climax Series playoff — the first time in 16 years that Hiroshima finished in the top half of the standings.