Veteran Hiroshima Carp outfielder Tomonori Maeda on Friday said he will retire at the end of this season, his 24th with the Central League club.

"It may sound like a bad thing to say, but it feels like I'm finally done with this," the 42-year-old Maeda said. "I feel a sense of relief as if something of that sort has been lifted from my shoulders."

He joined Hiroshima as a fourth-round draft pick out of Kumamoto Kogyo High School in the 1990 season and played a key role in helping the team win the CL pennant in 1991.

A left-handed hitter, Maeda overcame a ruptured right Achilles tendon sustained during the 1995 season and had his 2,000th career hit in a 14-7 victory over the Chunichi Dragons on Sept. 1, 2007.

Maeda has been Hiroshima's trump card as a pinch hitter in recent years.

Although he was warm with fans, Maeda tended to be aloof with teammates and the media. He typically warmed up and stretched before games by himself, while his teammates worked together in groups.

This season Maeda has been doubling up as an assistant batting coach but in April he was deactivated and had surgery on his left wrist after being hit by a pitch in a 3-1 loss to the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.

A four-time Best Nine and Golden Glove winner, Maeda has a career .320 batting average with 2,119 hits, 295 home runs and 1,112 RBIs in 2,186 games.