• Kyodo

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Former Kintetsu Buffaloes president Keisuke Ashitaka said Tuesday the procedures to make seven-time All-Star infielder Norihiro Nakamura available to major league clubs through the posting system has been completed.

Should he strike a deal, the 31-year-old Nakamura will become the fourth Japanese player to join a major league team through the bidding system, after Ichiro Suzuki (Seattle Mariners), Kazuhisa Ishii (Los Angeles Dodgers) and Akinori Otsuka (San Diego Padres).

The system is one in which major league teams present sealed bids to win negotiating rights with Japanese players. If he receives an offer, Nakamura will begin talks with a club through his agent Dan Nomura.

After the player’s name and status is revealed to all American and National league teams through the Major League Baseball commissioner’s office, teams have four days to post their bids and the highest bidder is given 30 days to negotiate a contract.

“Nakamura called around noon today asking that I take action for the posting system so I did it immediately,” said Ashitaka after turning in the required documents to the baseball commissioner’s office in Tokyo.

Last month, Nakamura held open practice sessions in front of major league scouts in California despite being selected in the distribution draft to play for the Orix Buffaloes in 2005.

Nakamura, an Olympic team member in Athens and Sydney, had also traveled to the site of baseball’s winter meetings in a bid to draw interest from major league teams.

Figures to be released

The Japanese baseball executive committee agreed Tuesday that all 12 teams in the Central and Pacific leagues will start announcing real attendance figures starting in the regular season this year.

The teams will come up with the figure by adding the number of season tickets sold and the number of day tickets sold instead of releasing estimated numbers, causing many fans to assume that no tickets are available and leading to a huge drop in game attendance and TV ratings.

Ishikawa hurting

Yakult Swallows lefty Masanori Ishikawa might miss this year’s season opener while recovering from a stress fracture in his left leg, the Central League club said Monday.

Ishikawa, who will enter his fourth year in the pros this season, hurt his shin at a fall training camp last November.

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