• Kyodo

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A day after the Yomiuri Giants announced that two of their pitchers have been suspended for gambling on baseball games, the club began questioning its players and staff, beginning with manager Tatsunori Hara and his coaching staff.

With the Giants scheduled to host the first stage of the CL’s Climax Series on Saturday, team owner Kojiro Shiraishi met the team before Tuesday’s practice at Tokyo Dome.

“This disgraceful situation is extremely disappointing,” he said. “You have to be gentlemen, on and off the field. You all bear a heavy responsibility as members of the Giants, and you must never forget that.”

The hearings are expected to be concluded before the start of the playoffs, with team president Hiroshi Kubo saying he wants the individuals on the team to come clean about their personal connections and dealings. Atsushi Harasawa, the club’s official representative, will take responsibility for farm team players playing in the autumn instructional league in Miyazaki Prefecture.

The team’s office has been flooded with angry responses from the public, while Nippon Professional Baseball’s office was also inundated with calls after NPB commissioner Katsuhiko Kumazaki vowed Monday to conduct an exhaustive investigation. People called to demand a thorough investigation and demanded harsh penalties, while some suggested this would lead to the decline of NPB.

On Monday, Giants president Kubo told a news conference that pitcher Satoshi Fukuda had lost money betting on National High School Championship games this summer, Major League Baseball games and Japanese pro games — including those involving the Giants.

On Sept. 30, Fukuda’s acquaintance contacted the team, saying the pitcher had not paid his gambling debts. Upon investigation, a lawyer retained by the club found that Fukuda had been enticed to bet on games by an employee at a tax accounting firm who had been introduced to Fukuda by Giants pitcher Shoki Kasahara.

Fukuda apparently lost so much betting on high school championship games in the beginning of August that he bet on 10 NPB games and 10 major league games in an attempt to win back his money. The NPB games included three or four involving Yomiuri. In all, Fukuda is said to have lost well over ¥1 million.

The 32-year-old pitcher did not appear in games for the first team this season, so there is no suspicion that he fixed games, but betting on baseball is a violation of NPB’s charter.

The Hanshin Tigers president joined the swelling chorus in calling for the utmost vigilance.

“This is terrible news,” Nobuo Minami said. “Even front office staff, team employees, stadium personnel all must look into this thoroughly. We can’t say this enough.”

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