• Kyodo


The Chiba Lotte Marines on Monday announced they have handed a playing suspension to Yamaico Navarro and fined the infielder ¥500,000 ($4,428) following his recent arrest on suspicion of concealing a bullet in his bag in breach of Japan’s firearm law.

The 28-year-old Dominican, who signed with Lotte last month, will be unable to play during March and is also suspended for the first four weeks of the season in the Pacific League and with the farm team in the Eastern League.

The PL season starts on March 25, meaning Navarro would be able to play from April 22. He would be able to play on April 9 in the EL, which starts its season on March 12.

“More than anything I am sorry to the fans who had been looking forward to watching me play baseball,” said Navarro. “Once I can play, I want to pay them back through baseball.”

Prosecutors in Okinawa released Navarro on Feb. 23, following his arrest two days earlier at Naha airport in the southern island prefecture after a single live pistol round was found in his bag during a security check.

Police said Navarro told them the bullet came from his home in the Dominican Republic and he did not notice it was in the bag.

Navarro apologized for the incident following his release, saying he “had no idea such a thing would happen.”

Navarro’s arrest echoed that of then Chunichi Dragons pitcher and fellow Dominican Maximo Nelson in 2010. Nelson was arrested at Naha airport after being found in possession of a live round.

Naha prosecutors dropped the charge against Nelson, but he was barred from playing for a period of three months.

According to the Dominican consulate general in Tokyo, possession of firearms and ammunition is legal in the Dominican Republic with an appropriate license.

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