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Many fans might have thought Takahiro Arai was heading to the Hiroshima Carp to retire.

After the 2014 season, the then-37-year-old left the Hanshin Tigers to join the team he’d spent his first nine years with. Arai was coming off a season in which he’d played 94 games and hit .244 with three home runs and 31 RBIs, while only getting 176 at-bats. Back in Hiroshima, he’d be a good veteran presence as a backup and an extra bat off the bench for the Carp, or so some of the thinking went.

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