• Kyodo

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The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters have decided to ask Hideki Kuriyama to continue on as manager for next year for his fifth season.

According to general manager Hiroshi Yoshimura, Kuriyama, who had been on a one-year deal, has demonstrated a proactive posture. The Pacific League club, which was knocked out of the postseason by the Chiba Lotte Marines in the first stage on Monday, indicated last year how highly it values the skipper by hoping to sign him to a multiyear deal.

Lotte clinched the decisive third game 2-1 against the Fighters on home runs by Tadahito Iguchi and Alfredo Despaigne. Hideaki Wakui allowed a run in 6⅓ innings to earn the win and send the Marines to Fukuoka for the six-game PLCS second stage against the PL champion Softbank Hawks.

The Fighters expected to make an official announcement after Kuriyama meets with the team’s owner.

In his fourth season, Kuriyama has been active in giving responsibility to young players, and the development of slugging ace pitcher Shohei Otani is an indication of his results. This season, Otani led the PL in wins, earned run average and winning percentage.

The Fighters finished second in the league with a record of 79-62-2.

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