Baseball / MLB

BlueWave GM presents list of 25 protected players

Orix BlueWave general manager Katsuhiro Nakamura visited the baseball commissioner’s office on Thursday to present a list of 25 protected players who will receive preferential signing rights with the new team created by the merger with the Kintetsu Buffaloes.

News photoNorihiro Nakamura

Nakamura said that the list was made up with a “core of key players in mind,” but would not reveal whether Norihiro Nakamura, who has said he will make his second attempt to move to the major leagues, and other big names were among the 25.

Along with Nakamura, Hisashi Iwakuma and Koichi Isobe were also thought to be among those protected from the Kintetsu Buffaloes.

Iwakuma, who led the Pacific League with 15 wins, had been among the players who said they were unwilling to play for the team created by the Kintetsu-Orix merger which is due to take place in the off-season.

Rakuten, which on Tuesday was selected over Livedoor as the 12th team to join Japanese professional baseball next season, will receive the list of unprotected Kintetsu Buffaloes and Orix BlueWave players ahead of the Nov. 8 distribution draft.

All unprotected players will be waived and considered eligible for the draft.

The draft plan is designed to give the new team an opportunity to be competitive in its first season and cover players who do not apply to the player protection rule.

Nishi hires Boras

Yomiuri Giants infielder Toshihisa Nishi, who has filed for free agency, has signed Scott Boras to be his agent, baseball sources said Wednesday.

Nishi, 33, has said he will hold talks with Yomiuri but is also keen on a possible move to the major leagues.

“Now I have agents in Japan and the United States, so I’m prepared for negotiations. I will work with my agents to find a deal that I can be satisfied with,” said Nishi.

Nishi hit .289 with 28 homers in a team-high 137 games this past season.

Results encouraging

Over 60 percent of respondents believe Japanese professional baseball will become more interesting with the addition of the newly formed Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, the results of a Kyodo News nationwide telephone survey showed Wednesday.

Of the people surveyed, 61.6 percent said Rakuten would bring excitement to the game while 26.1 percent said they were unconvinced that the addition of the Sendai-based club would have any effect in increasing fan interest.

Rakuten Inc. was given the green light over rival Internet-related company Livedoor to join pro baseball at a meeting of team representatives on Tuesday.

In a survey done Aug. 27-28, 71.1 percent of respondents said they lacked interest in baseball, which had reached a crisis involving a merger between the Orix BlueWave and Kintetsu Buffaloes that led to the first-ever Japanese baseball strike.