Veteran reliever Fukumori set to retire after season

Kyodo News

Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles reliever Kazuo Fukumori will retire from baseball at the end of the season because of elbow problems, baseball sources said Tuesday.

Fukumori made only two appearances in March and had surgery on his right elbow two months later.

The 34-year-old decided to end his career after his elbow failed to fully heal, the sources said.

Fukumori has a 41-45 career record with 82 saves over 15 seasons in Japan for the Yokohama BayStars, the Kintetsu Buffaloes and the Eagles.

He signed a two-year contract with the Texas Rangers in December 2007 but was limited to four major league appearances in 2008 before returning to Rakuten the following year.

Kaneko honored

Chihiro Kaneko was named the Pacific League pitcher of the month for August on Tuesday, the second consecutive monthly MVP award for the Orix Buffaloes right-hander.

Kaneko had a league-high five wins with a 2.77 ERA in six appearances, one in relief.

Orix became only the second PL club in Japanese baseball history to have monthly MVP pitchers for three months in a row, following the 2003 Daiei Hawks. Hiroshi Kisanuki won the June MVP award.

Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters third baseman Eiichi Koyano was named the best PL position player after having a league-leading 29 RBIs in 24 games.

The Central League, meanwhile, has chosen Tokyo Yakult Swallows right-hander Shohei Tateyama and Hanshin Tigers shortstop Takashi Toritani as its monthly MVPs.

Tateyama tied teammate Masanori Ishikawa for the CL lead with four wins while pitching two complete-game shutouts.

Toritani set a club record with 43 hits in a month, batting a whopping .422 in August.

Koyano, Tateyama and Toritani each received the monthly MVP awards for the first time in their careers.