Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Swallows manager Junji Ogawa to remain at the helm next season

Kyodo

Junji Ogawa confirmed Tuesday he will continue as manager of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows next year, after helping turn the Central League club around from a franchise-worst 96-loss season in 2017.

Less than a year after finishing last in CL, the Swallows are second in the standings and in a playoff race under Ogawa.

The 61-year-old former Swallows senior director, who signed a two-year contract to manage the club last October, said he was grateful for the chance to continue in the role.

“My only thought is gratitude. Obviously, winning is our main goal next year, but we also have to look at how we go about maximizing our ability to compete,” Ogawa said.

After ending the 2017 season with 45 wins, 96 losses and two ties, the Swallows turned to then-team senior director Ogawa, who had managed the club on an interim basis in 2010 and for four full seasons through 2014.

After reaching the postseason in 2011 and 2012, injuries decimated the club and Yakult finished last for two seasons, and Ogawa moved into a front office role.

In 2015, the Swallows won their first CL pennant under first-year skipper Mitsuru Manaka. However, they finished fifth the following season and last a year later.

Ahead of their games on Tuesday night against the Chunichi Dragons, the Swallows were 14 games back behind the first-place Hiroshima Carp with a 57-58-1 record.