Baseball / MLB

Giants decide to offload Martinez

The Yomiuri Giants will not offer slugger Domingo Martinez a contract for next season, officials of the Central League club revealed late Thursday.

Front office officials said they recognized Martinez was a valuable clutch hitter, but decided to let him go since he would likely be used primarily as a pinch-hitter next season.

The club, which will be skippered by new manager Tatsunori Hara next season, made the decision after free agent first baseman Kazuhiro Kiyohara opted to remain with the team.

Martinez, 36, played two seasons with the Seibu Lions of the Pacific League before coming to the Giants in the middle of the 1999 season.

During his five years in Japan, Martinez, affectionately referred to as “Maru-chan” by his fans, batted .293 with 104 homers and 350 runs batted in 538 games. He hit 10 homers this past season in 81 game appearances.

Fuji to hold on to Swallows

The chairman of Fuji Television Network Inc. said Thursday he has no intention of selling the company’s 20 precent stake in the Yakult Swallows despite allegations that moves by an affiliate radio station to buy the Yokohama BayStars may violate the bylaws of Japanese baseball.

“It’s not necessary to give up on our stake (in the Swallows), which we’ve had for decades,” Hisashi Hieda said when asked about the possible repercussions resulting from Nippon Broadcasting System Inc.’s plan to become Yokohama’s majority owner.

“I haven’t heard anything from commissioner (Hiromori) Kawashima yet and I don’t think this matter will be taken up in the future,” Hieda added.

Seafood manufacturer Maruha Corp., currently the majority owner of the BayStars, recently agreed to sell Nippon Broadcasting its majority stake in the Central League club.

Swallows sign Ishikawa

The Yakult Swallows on Thursday announced that they have reached an agreement with Masanori Ishikawa to join the Central League club after the Aoyama Gakuin University southpaw was their top pre-draft selection in this week’s entry-level draft.

Ishikawa signed a one-year contract with the Japan Series champions, receiving a signing bonus of 100 million yen and a first-year salary of an estimated 13 million yen with performance incentives of up to 50 million yen.

Tigers nab top catcher

KAWASAKI (Kyodo) The Hanshin Tigers on Thursday signed their top pre-draft selection and Hosei University student Ryo Asai, considered by many to be the top catcher in the Tokyo Big-6 Baseball League.

The 22-year-old catcher agreed to a provisional contract with signing bonus of 100 million yen and a first-year salary of an estimated 15 million yen with performance incentives of up to 50 million yen.