• Kyodo

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Daiei Hawks slugger Hiroki Kokubo suffered a severe injury to his right knee Thursday night in a preseason exhibition game against the Seibu Lions at Fukuoka Dome.

Hospital diagnosis showed it would take at least three months for Kokubo to recover from the lesion of ligament and meniscus, which will make it impossible for Kokubo to be ready for the season opener.

Kokubo is expected to undergo a detailed examination about a week after the swelling subsides, but his recovery will be prolonged if an operation becomes necessary, team officials said.

Kokubo scored from first on Nobuhiko Matsunaka’s double in the bottom of the fourth but crashed into catcher Takumi Shiigi sliding into home plate.

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