FUKUSHIMA – Akinori Iwamura, the former big leaguer who plays for and manages the Fukushima Hopes, will retire at the end of the season, his club announced Sunday.
A slugging third baseman for the Central League’s Yakult Swallows, the 38-year-old moved to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (now the Rays) in 2007. Iwamura became a standout at second base the following year, when the Rays won the American League but lost in the World Series.
Iwamura played for three major league teams over four years, and for Japan’s team that won the first two World Baseball Classics in 2006 and 2009. He will hold press conferences on Monday in Fukushima Prefecture and Tokyo.
The Ehime native joined the Swallows out of high school as the second-round draft pick. Although he demolished minor league pitching as a teenager, Iwamura failed to earn playing time in the CL due to his erratic fielding. He overcame those issues, however, and went on to win eight Golden Gloves and was named the league’s top third baseman two times.
He had a spell at the Pittsburgh Pirates and Oakland Athletics in 2010 before returning to Japan, spending two seasons each for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles and Yakult.
Iwamura has been the Hopes manager since the team was launched as a new franchise in the independent Baseball Challenge league in 2015.