• Kyodo

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Former Chunichi Dragons and Chiba Lotte Marines pitcher Kazuhiko Ushijima will replace Daisuke Yamashita as manager of the Yokohama BayStars for next season, baseball sources said Wednesday.

The 43-year-old Ushijima will take over the reins after Yamashita decided last month he would step down at the end of this season after failing to lift the club away from the wrong end of the Central League standings.

Ushijima, who worked as a baseball pundit for Yokohama’s parent company Tokyo Broadcasting System Inc. after ending his playing career, has no managerial experience but has an established reputation for his deep knowledge of baseball.

Ushijima joined Chunichi as a first-round draft pick in 1980 and seven years later moved to Lotte in a trade for current Chunichi manager Hiromitsu Ochiai, who led the Dragons to the Central League title this season.

He led the Pacific League in saves that year and posted a lifetime record of 53 wins and 64 losses with 126 saves and an ERA of 3.26 before retiring in 1993.

Giants keep Horiuchi

The Yomiuri Giants will exercise the second year of manager Tsuneo Horiuchi’s three-year contract for next season, officials of the Central League club said Wednesday.

The 56-year-old Horiuchi, who signed with the club last September, was asked to remain at the helm despite the Giants missing out on the league championship the year they spent multimillion dollars on acquiring sluggers Tuffy Rhodes and Hiroki Kokubo.

“They’re allowing me to stick to my post for another year. After a year (at the helm) I have an understanding of the team. We have to win no matter what next season,” said Horiuchi.

Horiuchi, a former star pitcher and coach for the Giants, replaced Tatsunori Hara as manager after Hara stepped down after just two years citing the team’s poor performance during the 2003 season.

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