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The Yomiuri Giants demanded Wednesday that free-agent infielder Toshihisa Nishi decide by Monday whether to re-sign with the Central League team or pursue a career in the major leagues, club representative Hidetoshi Kiyotake said.

Kiyotake said the deadline was set during talks with Nishi’s agent, lawyer Masataka Uesugi, after he made clear Yomiuri’s hopes that the 33-year-old will remain with the Tokyo ballclub.

“If he intends to stay with the team, we would like to offer him financial terms quickly,” Kiyotake said, adding that negotiations would have to be terminated after Monday’s deadline, depending on Nishi’s response.

Nishi had earlier put on hold a two-year contract offered by Yomiuri in their first round of talks, saying his priority is to test the free-agent market in the United States.

Nishi, the 1996 CL Rookie of the Year and winner of four straight Golden Glove awards from 1999, hit .289 with 28 homers and 60 RBIs in 137 games in the 2004 season.

Oh convinced Omura

OSAKA (Kyodo) Free agent outfielder Naoyuki Omura said Thursday being asked personally by manager Sadaharu Oh to join the Daiei Hawks was the decisive factor in choosing to open a new chapter with the Fukuoka-based Pacific League club.

“It was a big deal that a superstar like Mr. Oh asked me (to join),” said Omura, who played for the Kintetsu Buffaloes this year.

“I’m more excited than worried and looking forward to playing in front of that sellout home crowd. I want to get on base as much as possible because they have a lineup full of clutch hitters that can score runners,” he said.

Omura, who also drew interest from the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, agreed to a three-year contract worth 500 million yen in addition to performance-related incentives. The official signing of the deal is scheduled for Dec. 26.

The 28-year-old hit .303 with 34 RBIs and 22 stolen bases in the 2004 season. He helped Kintetsu win the PL pennant in 2001 and won the Golden Glove award in 1998 and 2003.

Fighters pursue pair

The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters are close to signing former Fukuoka Daiei Hawks pitcher Brandon Knight and former New York Yankees infielder Eric Almonte, baseball sources said Thursday.

Knight, 29, joined Daiei in 2003 and posted a 6-4 record in two seasons in Japan, while the 26-year-old Almonte hit .318 and 17 homers this year for a Triple-A team in the Colorado Rockies organization.

Nippon Ham has reached basic agreements with both players and the signing is expected to take place within the next week.

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