• Kyodo

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The pro baseball players’ association said Saturday it will back up star right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, who has reached an impasse in talks with the Orix Buffaloes on his wish to be traded in a cash deal.

Association public relations officer Yoshiaki Yamazaki told reporters that, without choosing favorites, the group is determined to support Iwakuma in his quest not to play for the team created through the merger between the Orix BlueWave and Kintetsu Buffaloes.

“He has made his intentions clear so we will back him up,” Yamazaki said.

“The goal is to find an environment where he will be able to play baseball. We are not going to favor either club in this matter but we respect his decision and will support him.”

Iwakuma, who is already in contact with the association, is demanding that he be traded to the newly formed Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, but his request has fallen on deaf ears with Orix club president Takashi Koizumi.

After his fourth meeting with Koizumi failed to produce the desired result Friday, the 23-year-old Iwakuma decided he would break off direct talks with Orix and ask the players’ association to step in as an intermediary in hopes of getting the trade.

Iwakuma, who led the Pacific League with 15 wins this year with Kintetsu, is one of 25 protected players picked from Kintetsu and Orix despite his wish to be left off the list for an opportunity to be selected by Rakuten in the distribution draft held Nov. 8.

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