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Yasuhiro Ichiba, who accepted money from pro baseball clubs in violation of draft eligibility rules, is set to join the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, baseball sources said Saturday.

News photoAnaheim Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez gives a high five to Cleveland Indians catcher
Victor Martinez after the Major League team won Game 2 of the Japan-MLB exhibition series at
Tokyo Dome.

Takahiko Beppu, former general manager of the Meiji University baseball club and Ichiba’s self-proclaimed career guidance counselor, confirmed that the 22-year-old right-hander had no objections to the Rakuten offer to acquire him in a pre-draft arrangement.

“I think he will be going to Rakuten,” Beppu said, adding that he will make a final decision with Ichiba before Wednesday’s deadline for pre-draft arrangements allowing ballclubs to pick a limited number of top amateur prospects in free competition — a week prior to the Nov. 17 amateur draft.

“It would be best for a team to pick him in the pre-draft. We’ll wait a little longer, but I don’t think there will be any other teams looking to acquire him. Neither of us have any objections to Rakuten,” Beppu said.

Isao Hirono, who is in charge of player acquisitions for Rakuten, told Meiji University team manager Keita Kawaguchi of the club’s intentions to select Ichiba in the pre-draft.

Shigeru Takada, the general manager for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters and alumnus of Meiji, had also expressed interest in Ichiba but decided against him as it would preclude the Fighters from acquiring Tohoku High School draft prospect Yu Darvish in the first round.

Ichiba quit the Meiji University team this summer after it became known that he received money from the Yomiuri Giants.

Last month, it was revealed he also accepted a total of 600,000 yen from the Yokohama BayStars and 250,000 yen from the Hanshin Tigers as “meal and taxi fare” in the middle of a fierce bidding war for the player.

Ichiba later said he will return the full amount and apologized for the scandal.

Ex-Jay tries out

CHIBA (Kyodo) Former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Michael Yoshihide Nakamura took part in a tryout of the Chiba Lotte Marines on Saturday as he attempts to play in Japan.

Nakamura threw about 30 pitches in a bullpen session at Lotte’s training camp in Chiba. He will stay with the Marines until Monday before undergoing a tryout at the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters’ camp being held also in Chiba Prefecture.

A Japanese national, Nakamura is required to join the Nov. 17 amateur draft for an opportunity to play in Japanese baseball.

The 28-year-old was born in Nara Prefecture and moved to Australia at age 3 with his Japanese father and Australian mother. He went to the United States as a college student.

Nakamura made his major league debut last year with the Minnesota Twins. This year, he was traded to Toronto, where he went 0-3 with a 7.36 ERA in 19 games.

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