Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Fighters' Kensuke Tanaka announces plan to retire after next season

Kyodo

Former major leaguer Kensuke Tanaka said Tuesday he will retire at the end of his 20th and final season with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters next year.

“(Next year) is my last year. I’ll give it everything I’ve got until the final ball to be the best in Japan,” Tanaka said after renewing his contract with Nippon Ham for ¥65 million (about $580,000), down ¥10 million from last season.

Tanaka, 37, joined the Fighters out of high school in 2000 and won five consecutive Golden Gloves at second base from 2006-10. His slugging consistency has helped the Pacific League club clinch five pennants and two Japan Series championships.

After declaring free agency, Tanaka signed a minor league deal with the San Francisco Giants in 2013 and was called up to the majors as a left fielder for 15 games, hitting .267.

Tanaka, who returned to Nippon Ham in 2015 after a stint in the minors in 2014, batted .295 with a .398 on-base percentage over 67 games for the Fighters this past season.