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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.

News photoTatsunori Hara

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.

The Yomiuri front office started in the summer to look for a replacement for Horiuchi after his team made a sluggish start to the season and failed to move into title contention.

The name of Hanshin Tigers senior director Senichi Hoshino surfaced as the top candidate to take over, but the former Hanshin and Chunichi Dragons skipper said earlier this month he will remain in the Hanshin front office next year.

Hoshino at the time denied press reports that he had received an offer to manage the Giants.

Earlier Wednesday, Yomiuri announced the resignation of Horiuchi, 57, who is leaving with one year left on his contract.

Yomiuri is fifth in the six-team league with 62 wins and 79 losses, the worst record in club history, with one game left in the season. In Horiuchi’s first year on the job, Yomiuri finished third.

More Japanese baseball news on Page 22

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