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Hanshin Tigers manager Akinobu Okada said Monday that left-hander Kei Igawa, who had reached a deadlock over a new contract after insisting he be allowed to move to the major leagues, will play for the Central League club this season.

News photoTsuyoshi Shinjo of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters arrives at Naha Airport in Okinawa on Monday, a day ahead of the opening of his team’s spring training camp.

“He told me from his own mouth that he will play with Hanshin this year,” Okada said after a 20-minute meeting with his ace pitcher a day before the team’s training camp begins in Okinawa.

“I told him to be realistic and get down to work from tomorrow. That’s the end of this issue,” Okada said.

Though he has given up on a move to the majors this season, the 25-year-old Igawa said his desire to play there before he becomes a free agent in 2009 has not changed.

In Nagoya on Monday, Chunichi Dragons outfielder Kosuke Fukudome re-signed for an unchanged amount of 200 million yen after completing his sixth round of talks on a salary deal for this year.

Last season, Fukudome, 27, hit .277 with 23 homers and 81 RBIs in 92 games.

In other news, Fujiidera Stadium, which had been used as the Kintetsu Buffaloes’ home for nearly half a century, was shut down on Monday after 77 years in existence.

Orix set to accept bid

OSAKA (Kyodo) The Orix Buffaloes are set to accept a bid from an unnamed major league team to negotiate a contract with Japanese infielder Norihiro Nakamura through the posting system.

Former Kintetsu representative Keisuke Ashitaka said Monday the Pacific League team, created through the merger of the Orix BlueWave and Kintetsu Buffaloes this offseason, has responded positively to the Japanese commissioner’s office on the offer made for the 31-year-old.

The amount of the offer and whether the bidding club is the Los Angeles Dodgers are still unclear at this point.

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