Baseball / MLB

Buffaloes-BlueWave merger gets green light

The Japanese pro baseball executive committee decided Monday to accept the proposed merger between the Kintetsu Buffaloes and the Orix BlueWave after the two clubs reached a basic agreement on the deal early last week.

News photoAlex Cabrera of the Seibu Lions, who suffered a fractured right arm during the preseason, grounds out against Orix in his first at-bat of the season at Seibu Dome on Monday.

An executive committee of Pacific and Central league teams gave the proposed deal the green light after the parties involved explained the details of a merger that would reduce the number of teams in the Pacific League to five.

Specifics such as issues involving player contracts and franchise right issues have not been squared away and will be debated further among the two teams as well as in the executive committee next month.

“We’ve agreed on the basic framework to allow the merger to take place. We will continue with the procedures (of the merger) once several problems have been officially solved,” committee chairman Hajime Toyokura said.

The planned merger was revealed by Masanori Yamaguchi, president of major railway operator Kintetsu Corp. which owns the rights to Kintetsu, on June 13.

Buffaloes top Marines

OSAKA (Kyodo) Larry Barnes hit a leadoff homer in the first inning and Norihiro Nakamura went 3-for-4 with two RBIs on Monday to lead the Kintetsu Buffaloes to 4-0 triumph over the Chiba Lotte Marines in the Pacific League.

Jeremy Powell (3-5) pitched eight shutout innings, allowing six hits while striking out seven en route to victory at Osaka Dome. Naoyuki Shimizu (3-8) got tagged for the loss after yielding four runs in 6 2/3 innings. He escaped a two-on jam in the second.

The victory was Kintetsu’s second in six games while Lotte has won three of its last 10.

BlueWave 4, Lions 2

At Seibu Dome, Yoshitomo Tani hit a two-run single to left in the third inning and Jose Ortiz homered in the sixth to give last-place Orix a victory over second-place Seibu.

Hidetaka Kawagoe (5-3) pitched his second consecutive complete game, scattering eight hits in 124-pitch outing. Fumiya Nishiguchi (6-4) took the loss for the Lions, who allowed the first run to score on a fielding error in the first.

Tomoaki Sato and Hiroyuki Takagi hit solo shots for Seibu.

Seibu’s Alex Cabrera, who returned after breaking his right forearm in March, went hitless in four at-bats with one strikeout as the designated hitter.

Kiyohara breaks hand

Yomiuri Giants slugger Kazuhiro Kiyohara was diagnosed Monday with a broken left hand, not a bruise as initially thought, and removed from the active roster, officials of the Central League club said.

He was hit by Yuya Ando’s pitch on the back of the hand when he came on to pinch hit in the 10th inning of a game against the Hanshin Tigers on Saturday at Tokyo Dome. The injury was first diagnosed as a bruise when he was examined the following day at a Tokyo hospital but found to be a fracture after further X-rays were taken.

Kiyohara, who became the 31st player to reach 2,000 hits in the game against the Yakult Swallows on June 4, will require at least three months to recover, making his quest to reach 500 career home runs this season very difficult.

The 36-year-old needs 10 more homers to reach the 500 milestone achieved by only seven others in Japanese baseball. If all goes well, he could return near the end of the season, said chief trainer Hirohisa Hagiwara.