Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Giants to ask Tatsunori Hara to return as manager

Kyodo

The Yomiuri Giants are looking to bring back Tatsunori Hara for a third stint as manager after Yoshinobu Takahashi steps down at the end of the season, sources close to the matter said Thursday.

Hara, 60, ended his second go-round as manager of the Tokyo-based Central League club after the 2015 season, with Takahashi taking the reigns shortly after.

Hara’s 12-year tenure over the 2002-2003 and 2006-2015 seasons included seven CL pennants and Japan Series titles in 2002, 2009 and 2012. Hara presided over 11 A-Class finishes during his run with the team, with 2003 the only year one of his teams finished lower than third in the CL standings. Hara, who was elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame earlier this year, was 947-712-56 in the Yomiuri dugout.

Takahashi, who ended his 18-year playing career with Yomiuri before taking up managerial duties, said Wednesday he will not lead the team next season after failing to win the league pennant during his three years in charge.

“From the time I took over, I have held that the manager is responsible for the team winning or losing,” Takahashi, 43, said on Wednesday.

“I told the owner directly that I would take responsibility for the team’s performance.”

The Kyojin are currently sitting in third place in the league and are still in the race for this year’s CL Climax Series. The club finished second in 2016 and fourth last year.

Yomiuri owner Toshikazu Yamaguchi said Wednesday the ideal successor will have “experience and past achievements.”

Hara led the Japanese national team to victory in the World Baseball Classic in 2009.

His 15-year playing career with the Giants, which began in 1981, included 382 home runs and 1,093 RBIs in 1,697 games. He was named the CL’s Most Valuable Player in 1983, the year in which he lead the league with 103 RBIs.