NISHINOMIYA, HYOGO PREF. – Hanshin Tigers backup catcher Fumihito Haraguchi has been diagnosed with intestinal cancer and will undergo surgery in the coming days, the team announced Thursday.
The 26-year-old Haraguchi has a career batting average of .280 with a .361 on-base percentage and a .421 slugging average although he has been supplanted as the Tigers’ regular catcher by Ryutaro Umeno.
“I was stunned when I heard the name of the disease, and frankly I was upset,” Haraguchi said in a statement released by the club. “I want to strive in my treatment so that I can encourage the dreams of other patients and their families.”
Haraguchi broke through in 2016, when he was recalled from the developmental roster, where he had languished since 2013. That year he played in 107 games, batted .299 with 11 home runs, while posting a .376 on-base percentage and a .453 slugging average.
Last season, he tied Shinjiro Hiyama’s team record for pinch hits in a season with 23.
Haraguchi becomes the second former Tigers farmhand to battle cancer in recent seasons. Hiroshima Carp outfielder Masato Akamatsu, who started his career with Hanshin, revealed he had cancer in December 2016, and had surgery the following year. This year, the 36-year-old Akamatsu is seeking to regain his spot on the Carp’s first-team roster.