NISHINOMIYA, HYOGO PREF. – The Central League’s Hanshin Tigers announced the hiring of former manager Katsuhiro Nakamura as the club’s first general manager on Wednesday.
The historic franchise, which has won two CL pennants in the past 10 years, is currently mired in fifth place under first-year manager Yutaka Wada. Ahead of Wednesday’s games, the Tigers were 27-1/2 games back of the league-leading Yomiuri Giants and eight games behind the third-place Hiroshima Carp, who currently occupy the league’s final playoff spot. This kind of midseason hiring is extremely unusual in Japan.
The 63-year-old Nakamura was an infielder for the Tigers after being drafted out of Waseda University. He managed Hanshin from 1990 to 1995, when he was replaced during the season. Nakamura has been the general manager of Pacific League franchise Orix since 2003. He also managed the Buffaloes in 2006 following the death of the previous manager, Akira Ogi.
“This is a tremendous honor,” Nakamura said. “We have to compete in this pennant race with a slumping team that has fared worse than any (Tigers) team in recent years.
“We don’t have time to rebuild, but we can make an accurate analysis of the team, make the most of our staff and our strengths, and exert ourselves with all our might.”