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Norichika Aoki led Japanese baseball with a .358 batting average and turned out the second most single-season hits (209) in Central League history last year.

Yet there he stood at the edge of the home dugout, bat in hand, on Saturday as a home crowd satisfied after their Tokyo Yakult Swallows’ 3-0 victory over the Hiroshima Carp filed out of Jingu Stadium.

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