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Ex-Dragons ace Kawakami retires

Kyodo

Former Chunichi Dragons ace Kenshin Kawakami announced his retirement in a television appearance Sunday.

“I’ve decided to take my uniform off for good,” the 41-year-old Kawakami said during ‘Sunday Dragons,’ a local live broadcast. “I’m at peace. It’s a huge load off the shoulders, but sad at the same time.”

“Watching the pitchers and the players’ spirit at (the World Baseball Classic), I just lost the confidence to keep going,” said Kawakami, who plans to become an analyst now.

Kawakami, who was with the Atlanta Braves organization from 2009-2011, had right shoulder surgery in September 2015 after parting ways with the Dragons, the only Nippon Professional Baseball team he has known.

The Tokushima Prefecture native had been rehabbing ever since, trying to work his way back to the mound before calling it a career on Sunday.

Armed with a good hook, forkball and cut fastball, Kawakami joined Chunichi out of Meiji University in 1998 and in 2004, won the Sawamura Award, the honor which goes to the top starting pitcher in Japan, as well as the Central League MVP as he helped the Dragons win the pennant.

Kawakami finishes his career with a 117-76 record plus one save in 275 appearances in Japan. In the majors, he went 8-22 with a 4.32 ERA in 50 games including 41 starts.