The Central League’s Tokyo Yakult Swallows on Wednesday named chief batting coach Mitsuru Manaka as the club’s new manager.
Manaka, who managed the Swallows’ farm club to an Eastern League pennant last season, takes over on a three-year deal after Junji Ogawa resigned at the end of this season due to the cellar-dwelling club’s poor results.
After three strong seasons under Ogawa, the Swallows hit the skids in 2013 and have not improved this year. They finished last in the CL standings for the second season in a row after posting a record of 60 wins, 81 losses and three ties.
“The team was last in the standings two years in a row so it is a difficult situation,” Manaka told a news conference. “But I am convinced I can pull the team together and take it in the right direction. Defense right throughout the team will be important.”
Manaka had been a strong candidate to take over the Swallows. A former outfielder, the 43-year-old played for four Japan Series championship teams during his 16 years as a player with Yakult.