• Kyodo


Hanshin Tigers infielder Makoto Imaoka re-signed with the Central League club Thursday for an estimated 330 million yen, making him the first Japanese player in team history to reach the 300-million yen mark.

News photoMakoto Imaoka

Imaoka saw an increase of 80 million yen from this year after leading the league with 147 RBIs, the third most in a single season in Japanese baseball history, and guiding the team to its second league crown in three years.

“The team appreciated my RBI number. I’ll continue to drive in runs,” Imaoka said. He hit .279 with 29 home runs in 146 games this year.

Outfielder Norihiro Akahoshi also re-signed with the Tigers for an estimated 180 million yen, a 50 million yen pay raise.

Akahoshi posted a career-high .316 average and league-leading 60 stolen bases, his fifth straight stolen bases title since his debut year, in 145 games.

“I’ll try to improve my on-base percentage and have more hits. I’ll aim at 200 hits next season,” Akahoshi said.

Elsewhere, Yomiuri Giants infielder Toshihisa Nishi will receive an estimated 180 million yen in 2006, the final year of his two-year contract with the Central League club.

Nishi took a 20 million yen pay cut after hitting .269 with 11 homers and 45 RBIs in 128 games.

Giants set to aquire Dillon

The Yomiuri Giants are poised to acquire infielder Joe Dillon, who made his major league debut with the Florida Marlins this year, according to the Marlins’ official website.

“Dillon has decided to play in Japan for the Yomiuri Giants. In return, the Marlins will receive cash considerations,” the website said Tuesday.

The Giants have been looking for a replacement for veteran first baseman Kazuhiro Kiyohara, who was released in October and has accepted a one-year deal to play for the Orix Buffaloes next year.

The 30-year-old Dillon made his big league debut on May 18 and hit just .167 (6-for-36) with one homer and one RBI in 27 games.

But for the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Triple-A affiliate of the Marlins, Dillon hit .360 with 24 homers and 72 RBIs in 98 games this year.

Seibu gets infielder Liefer

The Seibu Lions said Thursday they have signed infielder Jeffrey Liefer to a one-year contract worth an estimated 50 million yen.

The 31-year-old Liefer hit .196 with one homer and eight RBIs in 19 games for the Cleveland Indians this year. In his seven-year career in the major leagues, Liefer has a .230 average with 31 homers and 113 RBIs.

He did not receive any signing bonus.

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