Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Nakajima won't return to Lions

Kyodo

Former Lions star Hiroyuki Nakajima has rejected the possibility of a return to his old club, Seibu managing director Haruhiko Suzuki said Thursday.

Nakajima, a four-time winner of the Pacific League’s Best IX Award at shortstop, has spent the past two seasons in the United States in the Oakland Athletics’ organization without playing a single game in the majors, and is now a free agent.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Suzuki, who said the Lions were informed of Nakajima’s decision by his agent. “He’s one of our own, and definitely a player we wanted back. We wish him well.”

Nakajima, a career .302 hitter, hit 162 homers for the Lions while scoring 688 runs and driving in 738. Nakajima played the bulk of last season for the Double-A Midland RockHounds.

A number of teams have expressed an interest in the 32-year-old, particularly his hometown team, the Hyogo Prefecture-based Hanshin Tigers. Nakajima is from nearby Itami.

Meanwhile, shortstop Takashi Toritani, the team captain, has filed for free agency and is seeking to play in the majors next season.