• Kyodo

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Chunichi Dragons southpaw Shigeki Noguchi will be out of action for two to three months after he was diagnosed Wednesday with damaged ligaments in his left elbow, officials of the Central League club said.

Noguchi, who left spring training to undergo a re-examination of his elbow at a hospital in Nagoya, had been tipped for the top choice in the starter’s role for the Dragons’ season-opener against the defending CL champion Yakult Swallows on March 30. Instead, he could miss the first half of the upcoming season.

Chunichi’s chief trainer said the 27-year-old Noguchi also had internal bleeding in the elbow and his appearance in top-team games before the all-star break “seems questionable now.”

Noguchi appears unfazed by the setback, simply commenting that he will receive treatment right away and return to the game as soon as possible.

Noguchi went 12-9 and led the Central League with 187 strikeouts and a 2.46 ERA last season.

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