After two years in the United States, most of it spent in Triple-A, second baseman Kensuke Tanaka is returning to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, the team announced Tuesday.
Tanaka, 33, left the Pacific League club as a free agent and signed a minor league deal with the San Francisco Giants in 2013. A news conference has been scheduled for Wednesday.
In his first spring camp with the Giants, the five-time Golden Glove winner developed a case of the “yips,” and had trouble making the throw to second base. When his ability to reach base earned him a 15-game call-up to San Francisco, Tanaka was used exclusively in left field.
At bat, Tanaka never skipped a beat. After reaching base at a career .356 clip in Japan, Tanaka posted a .377 on-base percentage in his two minor league seasons and .353 in his brief stint with the Giants.
The Fighters tried several players to fill the void at second after Tanaka’s departure, with 23-year-old Takuya Nakashima appearing to have won the competition this past season. Although a good fielder, Nakashima will be pushed to keep his new job with Tanaka back.
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