Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Three Hawks starters headline Golden Glove winners

Kyodo

Three players from the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, who won their second straight Japan Series last weekend, were among the Golden Glove winners announced Thursday by Nippon Professional Baseball.

Catcher Takuya Kai, third baseman Nobuhiro Matsuda and outfielder Yuki Yanagita were named as the recipients at those positions in the Pacific League. The players are selected based on votes by baseball reporters from newspapers and broadcasters nationwide.

Kai, who was also named the Japan Series MVP, won his second straight Golden Glove award. Matsuda, who received the honor for the sixth consecutive year, earned the award for fielding excellence for a seventh time, the most by any recipient this year.

“I am surprised and really happy,” Kai said. “I’m grateful to our manager, coaches and staff who got us through our games.”

Three players from the Hiroshima Carp, the Central League pennant winners and Japan Series runners-up, were also selected — Ryosuke Kikuchi at second base, Kosuke Tanaka at shortstop and Yoshihiro Maru at outfield. Kikuchi, who picked up his sixth straight award, garnered the most votes in either league.

Among other winners, Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles pitcher Takayuki Kishi earned his first Golden Glove in his 12-year career. Kishi was the 2008 Japan Series MVP when he played for the PL’s Seibu Lions.

“I’m honored to be chosen and I’m really happy since it’s my first time. I’ll keep playing solid defense and do my best to contribute to our team’s success,” Kishi said.

In addition to Kishi and Tanaka, five players won their first Golden Glove. They are Hanshin Tigers catcher Ryutaro Umeno, Yokohama BayStars third baseman Toshiro Miyazaki, Chunichi Dragons outfielder Ryosuke Hirata, Chiba Lotte Marines second baseman Shogo Nakamura, and Lions shortstop Sosuke Genda.

“I’m happy to win the prize since I was aiming for the award,” said Genda, who collected the most votes in the PL in his second year with the Lions.

Genda said, “I’d like to thank my manager and coaches who always helped with my batting. I’ll strive to practice hard so I’ll be picked again next year.”

BayStars first baseman Jose Lopez earned his third straight award and fourth overall, tying the most won by a foreign player. The Venezuelan former major leaguer, who started his career with the Seattle Mariners, earned his first award with the Yomiuri Giants in 2013.