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The Yomiuri Giants on Friday appointed Yoshinobu Takahashi as the Central League club’s new manager.

The move sees the 40-year-old Takahashi call time on a playing career that saw him doubling up as an outfielder and batting coach for the Giants.

“I will move forward with the determination to be like the great Giants managers before me in the history of the club,” said Takahashi, who was offered the job by club president Hiroshi Kubo on Tuesday.

“I am grateful from the bottom of my heart to the fans that have supported me as a player over the last 18 years since I joined the club.”

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.

The Giants missed out on a fourth consecutive Central League pennant this season, and manager Tatsunori Hara last Saturday said he would be stepping down following his team’s exit from the CL Climax Series final stage.

When Hara officially announced on Monday his retirement from the post he had held for the past 10 years, Yomiuri 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.”

Takahashi was the Giants’ first-round draft pick in 1997 and became a driving force in the batting lineup in his 1998 debut season. He finishes his career with 1,753 hits, 321 home runs and 986 RBIs in 1,819 games for the Giants.

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