NISHINOMIYA, HYOGO PREF. – Akihiro Yano, the Hanshin Tigers’ new manager, said Thursday at his inaugural press conference that he will give his all to make the fans happy.
“There are worries and fears, of course, but now it’s more like ‘OK, let’s do this.’ Together with everyone, I want to make a team that pleases fans. That’s what I want to do most,” he said.
Yano, a seven-time All-Star catcher and the Tigers’ minor league manager this season, accepted the Tigers’ promotion to the top team on Monday and signed a three-year contract with the Central League team.
“After telling players to challenge themselves every day, I thought that I, too, should take on the challenge,” said Yano.
The 49-year-old Osaka native replaced Tomoaki Kanemoto, who refused to accept a contract extension after Hanshin finished last in the Central League for the first time since 2001.
Under Yano, the Tigers’ farm team won the Western League and Japan’s farm championship for the first time in 12 years. He had been entrusted with rebuilding the team and assessing the franchise’s young talent.
Yano played on the Tigers’ last two CL pennant-winning teams in 2003 and 2005, winning the Golden Glove both years. He retired in 2010, ending a 20-year career.