• Kyodo

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Katsuya Nomura will return to professional baseball following a five-year absence after he signed a contract on Tuesday to manage the Rakuten Eagles next season.

Nomura, 70, who is currently managing amateur corporate league team Shidax, signed a deal worth an estimated 150 million yen a year and received a signing bonus of 100 million yen.

The former Yakult Swallows manager 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, who accepted it 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 November 2002.

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