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Veteran slugger Kazuhiro Kiyohara, who was released by the Yomiuri Giants in the fall, said on Tuesday he will play for the Orix Buffaloes next season.

Kiyohara has accepted a one-year deal that includes an annual salary of about 250 million yen and said former Orix manager Akira Ogi, who passed away last week, had helped him make up his mind to return to his native Osaka.

“Ogi-san said, ‘Just come back to Osaka,’ and those words really stuck in my mind. That’s why I decided to play baseball again,” Kiyohara told a news conference in Tokyo.

“I want to do my best for Orix for helping me out, for the Pacific League and for the fans,” he added.

Kiyohara was released by Yomiuri in October after struggling with a .212 average, 22 homers and 52 RBIs and having season-ending knee surgery in late August.

In his 20-year career, Kiyohara has hit .273 with 514 homers, fifth on the all-time list in Japanese baseball, and 1,491 RBIs for the Seibu Lions and the Giants.

Takashi takes pay cut

Yomiuri Giants outfielder Yoshinobu Takahashi on Tuesday took a pay cut for the first time in his pro career but re-signed with the Central League club on deal that will give him an annual salary of 320 million yen.

The 30-year-old, who took a 20 million yen cut, earlier this month underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his right ankle and is struggling to recover in time for Opening Day next season.

Takahashi injured his ankle while chasing down a ball in a game against the Hiroshima Carp on July 8 when he collided with a fence in the outfield.

He returned to the lineup in late August but bone spurs were later discovered.

He played in just 88 games this past season with 17 homers.

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