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Katsuya Nomura has accepted a request to take over as new manager of the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles next season, team president Toru Shimada said Thursday.

Nomura, 70, who is currently managing amateur corporate league team Shidax, is expected to be formally unveiled as the Pacific League club’s new skipper in late November as Shidax will play in the national championships beginning Nov. 19.

Sendai-based Rakuten, which joined Japanese pro baseball following the merger between the Orix BlueWave and Kintetsu Buffaloes, fired manager Yasushi Tao after a disastrous first season in the Pacific League.

The Eagles became the first PL club in 40 years to post 90 losses in a season and finished with a 38-97-1 record.

Rakuten owner Hiroshi Mikitani said he wanted a manager with a “wealth of experience and a solid theory on baseball,” and offered the job to Nomura at the end of last month.

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.

He was appointed Shidax manager in Nov. 2002.

Yang going Soft

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) The Softbank Hawks on Thursday signed Taiwan national team pitcher Yang Yao-hsun to a two-year contract worth an estimated 56 million yen.

“I’m glad to play for one of the top teams in Japan. I would like to succeed as a pitcher,” the 22-year-old left-hander told a press conference attended by Hawks manager Sadaharu Oh. The amount includes a 40 million yen signing bonus.

At this year’s Asian championship in Miyazaki in May, Yang also played as an outfielder and designated-hitter.

“Yang’s moves in the field clearly show his natural talents. I see him as a key member of the team from the beginning of next season,” Oh said.

Yang’s younger brother Yang Chung-ju, a Fukuoka Daiichi high school infielder, was picked by the Nippon Ham Fighters in the first round of the amateur draft for high school players earlier this month.

Orioles hire Mazzone

BALTIMORE (AP) Pitching coach Leo Mazzone and the Baltimore Orioles reached agreement on a three-year contract Wednesday night, hours after the Atlanta Braves coach ended discussions with the New York Yankees.

“The deal is finished business,” according to a source close to the negotiations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

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