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Kudo doesn’t want on-the-mend Yanagita to play in Japan-Taiwan series

Kyodo

Yuki Yanagita of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks shouldn’t play in next month’s two-game international series against Taiwan, Hawks skipper Kimiyasu Kudo said Friday.

The Hawks center fielder is still recuperating after surgery on his right elbow in November, and hasn yet to take part in fielders’ simulated-game practice, and Kudo doesn’t want to put more on his star’s plate.

“If you ask for a conclusion, I would say this time will be difficult,” Kudo said of Yanagita’s chances of playing in the March 5 and 6 games against Taiwan in Nagoya and Osaka, respectively.

When Samurai Japan manager Hiroki Kokubo visited the Hawks camp on Feb. 1, he was weighing the possibility of using the slugger as a designated hitter against Taiwan. Kudo, however, has expressed his opinion to his former teammate.

“We need him to be ready for the start of the season, and I don’t want to push him too hard,” Kudo said.

The games mark the start of the final year of preparations for the 2017 World Baseball Classic.