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Chunichi Dragons infielder Michihiro Ogasawara announced Thursday he will retire as an active player at the end of this season.

“I feel relieved, kind of like this day has finally come,” Ogasawara told a news conference. “I have got all kinds of mixed feelings but feel refreshed.”

Originally a catcher, the 41-year-old Ogasawara joined the Nippon Ham Fighters as a third-round pick in the 1996 draft and became one of the most consistent hitters in Japanese baseball.

He won batting titles in 2002 and 2003 and led the league in home runs and RBIs in 2006 to win the Pacific League MVP award.

Ogasawara joined the Central League’s Yomiuri Giants as a free agent in 2007 and won the CL MVP award that year. He recorded the 2,000th hit of his career in May 2011.

Ogasawara signed with Chunichi in the 2013 off season and has been mainly used as a pinch hitter. He has won six Golden Glove awards and was selected to the Best Nine seven times.

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