Inaba wins fans’ vote for All-Star selection

Kyodo News

Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters outfielder Atsunori Inaba received the most fan votes of any player for the upcoming two-game Japanese All-Star series, organizers said Monday.

Inaba made the Pacific League roster after attracting 498,353 votes, while Hiroshima Carp first baseman Kenta Kurihara was the top vote-getter in the Central League with 441,840, according to the final vote results.

“I really appreciate this many votes and the high expectations of me,” Inaba said. “We host Game 1 in Sapporo, so I’d like to go for a homer in front of my home fans.”

Nippon Ham and Hiroshima led their respective leagues with four and five players, respectively, selected for the series to be held at Sapporo Dome and Mazda Stadium on July 24-25.

A total of 11 players from the 2009 World Baseball Classic-winning Japan team have been named to the rosters, including Nippon Ham right-hander Yu Darvish and Yakult Swallows outfielder Norichika Aoki.

Yakult closer Lim Chang Yong, who helped South Korea reach the WBC final, has made the CL roster. The right-hander has kept his season ERA at 0.00 after 30 2/3 innings.

No players were selected from the Hanshin Tigers for the first time in eight years amid the team’s struggle this season.

Softbank Hawks rookie Tadashi Settsu led PL relief pitchers with 325,237 votes.

Yomiuri Giants reliever Tetsuya Yamaguchi, Yokohama BayStars outfielder Seiichi Uchikawa and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles outfielder Daisuke Kusano are among nine players selected in fan balloting for the first time.

Players’ votes also saw Inaba enjoy a Japanese baseball-leading 484 votes.

Managers’ picks of players, to be added to the All-Star rosters, will be announced July 6, along with the final list.