The Tokyo Yakult Swallows are looking to bring back former manager Junji Ogawa at the helm for the 2018 season, according to a source close to the matter.
The struggling Central League team has approached the 60-year-old Ogawa, who is currently its senior director, to replace manager Mitsuru Manaka, who last month announced his intention to step down at the end of the season.
Manaka, who is in the final year of a three-year contract, said he “can’t disappoint the fans anymore” and felt like he had no option but to resign, turning down an offer for an extension as well a front office role.
In July, the Tokyo-based Swallows dropped 14 consecutive games for the first time in 47 years, and are now guaranteed to end the season at the bottom of the CL standings with a losing record against all five other teams.
The source on Monday night said Yakult initially considered promoting second-team rookie manager Shingo Takatsu, but agreed the team needed someone with more experience who is capable of implementing a rebuilding strategy and giving the organization a strong foundation.
The plan also includes bringing former Yakult infielder Shinya Miyamoto on board as coach, hoping he would add value to the team by sharing his experiences as captain of the national team at the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Ogawa skippered the Swallows between 2010 and 2014, assuming the position of acting manager in 2010 after Shigeru Takada’s early-season resignation. In his first full season as manager in 2011, the Swallows finished second in the league for their best performance under his guidance.
An official announcement is expected to take place after the season.