• Kyodo News


Hokkaido Nippon Ham outfielder Hichori Morimoto filed for free agency Thursday while not ruling out a return to the Fighters next season.

“This is where the confusing part begins,” Morimoto said in Sapporo. “But this is a decision I made, and I have no regrets whatsoever.”

The 29-year-old fan favorite is a qualified overseas free agent, but Morimoto plans to either stay with Nippon Ham or sign with another Japanese team.

The debt-ridden Yokohama BayStars are among the teams that have expressed interest in the former All-Star, who has led the Pacific League in sacrifices the last two years.

Morimoto won the Golden Glove Award three years in a row from 2006, but was hampered by a hip injury last season.

The BayStars, meanwhile, continued to hold talks with their All-Star slugger Shuichi Murata, who remains undecided on whether to test free agency waters.

Third baseman Murata met with team president Takao Kaji on Thursday, when he said he would make his decision by Monday.

“I’m still not leaning one way or another,” Murata said. “I want to know what the team has in store for the future, and how I figure in their plans. I want to think about my family, and whether I can get the most out of myself by staying here.”

In previous negotiations, the 29-year-old Murata, who batted .257 with 26 homers and 88 RBIs this season, was told he would have to take a pay cut for next year, but on Thursday, was given a slight raise.

“We made it clear that we needed him for this team to move forward,” Kaji said.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.