Murata reinvigorated after move to Giants


The Yomiuri Giants on Tuesday unveiled infielder Shuichi Murata, who has joined the Central League club in a two-year free-agent deal worth ¥500 million.

The 30-year-old Murata filed for free agency from the Yokohama BayStars, now the Yokohama DeNA BayStars, after the 2011 season. Yomiuri manager Tatsunori Hara attended the news conference with Murata at a Tokyo hotel.

“Today I’m making a renewed start. I want to hoist manager Hara in the air in the championship celebration,” Murata said. “This year I hit 20 home runs, so next year I’d like to hit 30.”

Hara said he welcomes the addition of Murata, who helped lift Japan to its second consecutive World Baseball Classic title when Hara managed the team in 2009.

“He batted cleanup for us when we won the World Baseball Classic. I have great chemistry with him personally and I feel like this is fated to be,” Hara said. “I want him to make a name for himself as our cleanup hitter.”

Murata joined Yokohama in 2003 and was the CL home run king in 2007 and 2008. In 2011, he batted .253 with 70 RBIs in 144 games.

Darvish bidding heats up


Five major league teams, including the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, will throw their hats into the ring in pursuit of Japan’s next biggest export to make his foray overseas — Yu Darvish.

According to Monday’s edition of FoxSports.com, Boston and New York as well as the Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals will be among the clubs bidding for Darvish via the posting system.

Major League Baseball teams will have until 5 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday to submit their bids for the right to negotiate exclusively with the 25-year-old Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters ace.

The article said the “precise number of clubs involved is a matter of conjecture, but two baseball executives who spoke to FoxSports.com over the weekend named the same five suitors,” referring to the aforementioned clubs.

The Rangers have been interested in Darvish for months, which was evident by their general manager Jon Daniels scouting him personally in Japan several times earlier this year.

However, Robert Whiting, a renowned expert and author on Japanese baseball, is quoted as saying Darvish could struggle if he goes to Texas’ Rangers Ballpark, which is arguably the most hitter-friendly stadium in the majors.

“I’m afraid if Darvish goes to a hitter’s park, his game may suffer,” said Whiting, who has written numerous baseball articles for The Japan Times.

Compared with Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, Darvish is superior in almost every category, according to Ira Stevens of ScoutDragon.com, an information service on Japanese baseball players provided to MLB clubs.