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Seibu Lions catcher Tsutomu Ito, who has reportedly agreed to replace Haruki Ihara as the Pacific League club’s manager starting next season, said Friday he will put an end to his 22-year career at the end of this season.

The 41-year-old has been doing double duty as a player and coach for the past two years after turning down an offer from the front office to become manager. In the 2001 off-season, Ihara, who was then a coach, was promoted instead but the Lions lost 4-0 to the Yomiuri Giants in last year’s Japan Series.

“I had made up my mind to retire halfway through the season,” said the 1982 top draft pick.

“I injured my thigh this spring and felt myself getting older. My heart and body are in two different places. We won the league championship last year and I feel like I was able to make my share of contribution to the team.”

A retirement ceremony will be held after the Lions’ final home game of the season Sept. 27.

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