• Kyodo

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Former Orix Buffaloes pitcher Katsuhiko Maekawa was handed a suspended two-year prison term Monday for a hit-and-run while driving a car without a license in Osaka in January.

Osaka District Court Judge Akira Maruta ruled that Maekawa, 28, regularly drove without a license and tried to destroy the evidence related to the accident, in which he struck and injured a female bicyclist at an intersection.

Maruta showed leniency, on the other hand, saying Maekawa has reflected on his acts and was fired by his team.

“It may not be easy to return to the baseball world, but some people will understand,” the judge said to Maekawa, who was charged with road traffic law violations and professional negligence resulting in injury.

According to the court, Maekawa hit the woman on Jan. 6, causing minor injuries, and fled the scene without rendering assistance.

He owned up to the hit-and-run and requested a suspended sentence. The prosecution had sought a two-year prison term.

Maekawa joined the old Kintetsu Buffaloes in 1996 and signed with Orix in November 2005.

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