Chiba Lotte Marines shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka, whose team was just crowned the Japan Series champion, decided Tuesday to take a shot at the major leagues through the posting system this winter.
Nishioka will make a formal request to the club on Wednesday. The earliest Nishioka would be eligible for overseas free agency is the 2013 offseason, but the 26-year-old is hoping to make the switch early in his career via the system in which the highest bidder wins the exclusive right to negotiate a contract.
“In the end I was able to win a Japan Series title and that was a defining point for me,” said Nishioka. “Now I want to pursue my childhood dream.”
Nishioka this season became only the second player in the Pacific League to reach 200 hits following Ichiro Suzuki with the Orix BlueWave in 1994. He had the most hits with 206 and won the batting title with a .346 average in 144 games.
In 2006, he was a member of the Japanese team that won the inaugural World Baseball Classic.
As captain of his team this year, Nishioka helped Lotte become the first third-place club in the history of the Japan Series to win a crown.
“This year all I thought about as captain was helping lead our team to victory. If we weren’t able to win the Japan Series I don’t think I could have made this decision,” he said.
Nishioka joined Lotte in 2003 in the first round of the draft. He has a career .293 average, with 55 home runs and 300 RBIs over eight years in Japanese baseball.
While acknowledging Nishioka’s desire to play overseas, Lotte senior official Akira Ishikawa suggested it would be difficult to give up their All-Star shortstop.
“I fully understand his desire. At the same time, he is definitely an essential player for our team. We can’t make any decisions until we hear what he has to say,” Ishikawa said.
Giants sign Torres
The Yomiuri Giants said Tuesday they have signed Chicago White Sox right-hander Carlos Torres to a one-year contract worth 40 million yen.
Torres will be a candidate for the starting rotation.
The 28-year-old was drafted by the White Sox in the 15th round in 2004. This year, he went 0-1 with an 8.56 ERA in five games, including one start. He also played for Triple-A Charlotte where he had a 9-9 record with a 3.42 ERA in 25 starts.
Torres is 1-3 lifetime with a 6.86 ERA in 13 games (six starts) in the major leagues.
Interleague slate set
The interleague schedule for the 2011 season was released on Tuesday, with 144 games to be held between May 17 and June 19.
Each team plays the same opponent four times, twice at home and twice on the road, for a total of 24 games.
The Japan Series champion Chiba Lotte Marines will host the runnerup Chunichi Dragons in Chiba in one of the six matchups at the start of interleague play.
The Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles take on the Yomiuri Giants at Kleenex Stadium in Sendai, while the Orix Buffaloes and Hanshin Tigers face off at Kyocera Dome.
In case of postponement, games affected will be rescheduled between June 20 and 23.