• Kyodo


Yomiuri Giants player-coach Yoshinobu Takahashi said Monday he has been asked to manage the storied Central League club.

“As a player, I was putting myself into a mode of next season, so it came as quite a surprise,” said the 40-year-old Takahashi, who indicated he had yet to respond to the team’s request.

“I’m not opposed to the idea. It’s a great honor. I just want to thoroughly search my inner thoughts and then respond as quickly as possible.”

An outfielder and batting coach, Takahashi has been a part-time player and pinch hitter the past three seasons. This year, he played in 77 games with a .278 batting average, five home runs and 21 RBIs. Ironically, Takahashi made the Giants’ last out of the season.

Tatsunori Hara, who said he would leave his post after Saturday’s season-ending postseason 3-2 loss to the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, sent Takahashi in to pinch hit with two outs in the ninth inning. The move was questionable because it meant taking hot-hitting Soichiro Tateoka out of the game. Takahashi struck out, and Hara announced his intentions minutes later.

On Monday, when Hara officially retired from the post he had held for the past 10 years, Giants owner Kojiro Shiraishi said, “He (the next manager) will be someone who will take over Hara’s baseball legacy for us and infuse a fresh outlook.”

One of Hara’s strengths was his willingness to demote big-name stars, including Takahashi, to the farm team when they failed to perform.

In 2006, Takahashi did not produce in the middle of the order, where he had batted for nearly a decade, and the following season Hara made him his leadoff hitter. Motivated by what was perceived as an insult to his status as an RBI man, Takahashi had a career year in the No. 1 spot to help propel the Giants to their first CL title in five seasons.

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