• Kyodo


Rakuten Eagles owner Hiroshi Mikitani made a formal request Friday to have Katsuya Nomura take over the helm as the new manger of the Pacific League club.

Mikitani, the owner of Japan’s largest Internet shopping mall, made his request official in a meeting with Shidax amateur corporate league team president Tsutomu Shida after the 70-year-old Nomura responded positively to an offer three days earlier.

After working out the finances of his contract, Nomura will be officially unveiled as the new manager for the Rakuten Eagles in the city of Sendai on Oct. 4, Mikitani said.

“He has a wealth of experience and his theory on baseball is solid. The team needs someone who will be the axis. Many people were recommending him and I think he is pleased,” said Mikitani in explaining the reasons for hiring the former Yakult Swallows manager.

In contrast, Mikitani spoke frankly in a public setting for the first time about the firing of manager Yasushi Tao.

“He lost too many times. I would’ve preferred to keep him on for another year, but it became difficult to advocate on his behalf,” said Mikitani.

Mikitani also said he will spend an additional 1 billion yen on building up the team, adding that the sky is the limit to acquire the best baseball players. “If there are good players, we’ll pay for them,” he said.

Nomura steered the Yakult Swallows to four league titles in the 1990s, and won the Japan Series in 1993, 1995 and 1997.

After stepping down as Yakult skipper, Nomura managed the Hanshin Tigers from 1999 to 2001 but resigned after Hanshin finished at the bottom of the Central League for three straight seasons.

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