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Baseball chief denies Giants will move to PL

Dismissing talk that the Yomiuri Giants may switch leagues, Japanese pro baseball commissioner Yasuchika Negoro said Friday he will propose several plans in the following days to manage the Pacific League next season in the event of a merger between the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes and the Orix BlueWave and a possible second merger.

Negoro said he plans to make proposals at a special executive committee on Monday and at a meeting of team owners on Wednesday, but denied earlier reports of a plan by former Giants owner Tsuneo Watanabe to move the team to the Pacific League.

“We of course are considering one league and the choice of keeping two leagues,” said Negoro. “There are also a number of ways we can form two leagues.”

Earlier Friday, Pacific League President Tadao Koike told reporters he was approached by Watanabe in July about the possibility of having two leagues with 10 teams.

Watanabe was quoted as saying that should the number of teams in the PL be reduced to four through team mergers, both the Central League and Pacific League will be comprised of five teams each, with the Giants belonging to the PL.

“We have no concrete plans involving moving the Giants to the Pacific League. We are not thinking about that,” said Negoro.

Injunction denied

Kyodo News The Tokyo District Court on Friday turned down a request by the professional baseball players’ association for an injunction against the merger of the Orix BlueWave and the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes.

On Aug. 27, players’ association head Atsuya Furuta filed with the court for an injunction against the Orix-Kintetsu merger, calling for the establishment of a special committee to handle contractual issues for the players affected by the merger.

The association stressed that it would be unfair to proceed with the merger without forming such a committee, as a large number of players would be expected to lose their jobs should the merger go through.

Top officials of Nippon Professional Baseball had decided to hold off on the merger after the association sought the injunction, but with the court decision are likely to approve the merger at an owners meeting next Wednesday.

The professional baseball players’ association, discontent with Friday’s decision by the district court, immediately appealed the decision to the Tokyo High Court.

If the association’s appeal is rejected, it would increase the likelihood of the first work stoppage in Japanese baseball history because a damages suit brought by ball clubs would not be permitted were the players to strike.