Former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine has agreed to return to Japan to manage the Lotte Marines of the Pacific League, the team’s general manager told Kyodo News.
Valentine arrived in Tokyo on Saturday and met with Lotte officials early Sunday. A formal announcement will be made on Monday.
While financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, local media reported that Valentine has agreed to a three-year deal.
“We had very good talks,” Lotte general manager Tomoichi Kawakita told reporters. “All that’s left is to sign the papers and we’ll make an announcement tomorrow.”
Valentine, who replaces Koji Yamamoto, guided the Marines to a second-place finish in 1995, the team’s best finish since 1985.
The 53-year-old Valentine, who had also been mentioned as a possible candidate to replace Grady Little as manager of the Boston Red Sox, spent this season as a baseball analyst with ESPN, following his dismissal by the Mets last year.
He managed in New York from 1996-2002 _ leading the Mets to the 2000 World Series. He also managed the Texas Rangers from 1985-92.
After he guided the Marines to a 69-58 record in 1995, Valentine had a falling out with former general manager Tatsuro Hirooka. Hirooka said Valentine didn’t understand Japanese baseball, Valentine said Hirooka resented the close relationship he had with his players.
Valentine, a native of Connecticut, returned to the major leagues to manage the Mets, much to the disappointment of Lotte fans. Since his departure, the Marines have failed to finish better than fourth in the Pacific League standings.
Valentine, who has an 1,117-1,072 record in the majors, is considered a strong baseball tactician.
Meanwhile, Valentine hinted Sunday he is interested in acquiring the services of minor league outfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo.
Valentine, who managed the New York Mets when the 31-year-old Shinjo played for them in 2001, has reportedly been an admirer of the former Hanshin Tigers star since.
“I’d like to talk to him about it,” Valentine said, brushing off comments from club president Tomoichi Kawakita that he should analyze the current roster before considering new acquisitions.
Shinjo landed a deal with Triple-A Norfolk in July after he was designated for assignment by the Mets, and had said near the end of the season he was still undecided about whether to return to Japan next season.
Toritani eyes pros
Waseda University infielder and left-handed batter Takashi Toritani, one of the hot prospects for the upcoming amateur draft, announced Sunday his wish to ply his trade as a professional.
After the final fall-league game of the Tokyo Big Six League, Toritani, only the 10th player in the league to have won the batting title twice, made clear his intentions to join one of 12 Japanese teams after apparently drawing interest.
“I want to go to the pros. I trained myself mentally in university, so I’d like to work more on physical and technical aspects in the pros,” said the 22-year-old, who is reportedly set to join the Hanshin Tigers before the Nov. 19 draft.
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