FUKUOKA – The Daiei Hawks have allowed infielder Hiroki Kokubo to move to the Yomiuri Giants without compensation, officials of the Pacific League club said Monday.
“Kokubo said he wants a new challenge in a new environment and we wanted to grant him his wish. He has felt this way about making a change for about two years,” Daiei owner Tadashi Nakauchi told reporters at Fukuoka Dome.
Nakauchi was given the green light for the transfer after telling Giants owner Tsuneo Watanabe of Kokubo’s request at a meeting at the end of last month.
“Since it’s been decided, I really want to play my best baseball with the new club,” Kokubo said. “The Giants have amazing players. I won’t worry about others but about how much I will be able to contribute to the team now that my right knee has healed.”
Kokubo, who was making a team-high annual salary of 210 million yen with the Hawks, joined Daiei as a second-round draft pick in 1994 and won the home run title with 28 homers in the PL the following year.
The 32-year-old cleanup hitter was sidelined with a knee injury this season, not playing in a single game for the newly crowned Japan Series winners.
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