HIROSHIMA – Hiroshima Carp veteran right-hander Shinji Sasaoka said Monday he will retire at the end of the year after a largely unfulfilling season. Sasaoka, 40, said he knew it was time to hang up his glove and call it quits after he was unable to return to form following a stint on the farm team this season. “I thought it was just about over for me when I lost against the Giants on July 29 (allowing six runs in two-plus innings),” Sasaoka said. “I was deactivated and tried pitching on the farm team but my form didn’t return to normal.” Sasaoka, who is 2-7 with a 6.40 ERA in 10 games in 2007, said one of his fondest memories is helping Hiroshima win the Central League title in 1991. “That’s a great memory. I was able to play for the team I wanted to play for over 18 years. I wish I could have won another title with this team.” Sasaoka was drafted by Hiroshima as a No. 1 draft pick in 1990. The following season, he won a slew of accolades, including pitcher with most wins (17), lowest ERA (2.44), the league MVP award and the Sawamura Award. The Shimane Prefecture native has experience as a starter, throwing in middle relief and pitching in the closer’s role. He threw a no-hitter against the Chunichi Dragons on May 8, 1999, and posted both his 100th win and 100th save in 2003.
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