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The Yomiuri Giants announced Wednesday the appointment of Tatsunori Hara as manager of the Central League club to take over from Tsuneo Horiuchi, who is stepping down after the lackluster performance of his team this season.

Hara, 47, a popular former Yomiuri infielder, returns to the ballclub for his second stint at the helm. He steered the Giants to the 2002 league and Japan Series titles in his first year as manager and left the team after a third-place finish in 2003.

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