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Masataka Nashida said Thursday he was thankful for the opportunity to turn the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles fortunes around as manager of the Pacific League club next season.

“At 62 years old I am grateful for another chance to manage,” Nashida told a news conference at Kobo Stadium.

The Eagles have turned to two-time Pacific League winner Nashida to replace Hiromoto Okubo after they finished bottom of the league with a .407 winning percentage.

“I think if we just play the way we are capable of playing then we can finish with a winning percentage of around .500,” said Nashida, who won the PL title with the Kintetsu (now Orix) Buffaloes and the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Eagles vice chairman Senichi Hoshino, who guided the Eagles to their first PL pennant in 2013, said of Nashida: (He is) battle-harden. I think Nashida is the only person that can turn it around and spare us the ignominy of finishing bottom of the standings for the second year in a row.”

A catcher who spent his entire playing career with the PL’s Buffaloes, Nashida managed that club to the 2001 league pennant only to lose the Japan Series. When the team folded in a merger with the Kansai rival Orix BlueWave in 2004, Nashida was crushed.

The following season, Nashida led the Fighters to their third PL championship. But once more his club lost the season-ending championship series.

Nashida appears to be a natural to manage the Eagles, a team created to fill the void left by the Orix-Kintetsu merger and one that was originally stocked with surplus players from Orix and Kintetsu.

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