Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Hoshino makes return with Eagles

Kyodo

Senichi Hoshino was named the new manager of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles on Wednesday, the three-time, Central League winning skipper signing a one-year ¥150 million deal with the worst team in the Pacific League.

“It’s about time I got back into baseball,” said Hoshino, who will wear No. 77 — the same number he wore as manager of the Hanshin Tigers from 2002 to 2003.

“I regard it as my job to fire up Tohoku. Some teams win, but are never loved. I want to ingrain Rakuten into the Tohoku culture. I want to build a team that will be loved by the fans.”

The 63-year-old Hoshino had been the Tigers’ senior director since 2004. He quit managing due to health reasons after delivering Hanshin’s first league title in 18 years.

Rakuten owner Hiroshi Mikitani wants Hoshino to manage the team with a fist of fury, just as he had done with the Tigers and the Chunichi Dragons, who he won the CL pennant twice with in 1988 and 1999.

“It’s crucial to have strong leadership and a strategic mind,” Mikitani said. “We’ve been able to welcome aboard a great leader. I want him to mold this team as he sees fit, Hoshino style. I want him to whip and whip the younger players into shape.”