• Kyodo

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Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks first baseman Seiichi Uchikawa will be sidelined for six weeks because of a fractured left thumb, the Pacific League team said Wednesday.

Uchikawa was diagnosed with the injury at a hospital in Sendai, where the Hawks are playing the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. He was removed from the active roster Wednesday.

The 34-year-old hurt the thumb at first base while playing defense in the eighth inning of Sunday’s game against the Chiba Lotte Marines. He underwent tests after the swelling would not go down.

Uchikawa played for Japan at the World Baseball Classic in March. He started the season at a torrid pace but was out for 24 days in June with a neck sprain.

The latest setback makes it highly unlikely that Uchikawa, with 1,970 hits in his career, will reach Japan’s iconic 2,000-hit milestone this season.

“This hurts,” Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo said. “But I think it will be tougher on him. There’s nothing to be done but for the rest of us to just try and be in a good position in the standings when he comes back.”

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