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Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles right-hander Takahiro Norimoto will undergo a cleanup procedure on his pitching elbow next week, general manager Kazuhisa Ishii said Friday.

The 28-year-old missed the Eagles’ preseason opener in late February due to a sprained neck, and discovered damage in his right elbow after an examination this month.

An announcement on his full recovery is expected following the procedure on Monday, but Norimoto’s chances of pitching on opening day are slim.

“It’s a chronic thing, not something that suddenly flared up,” Ishii said. “He’s doing it for himself. The surgery is just maintenance.”

The five-time PL strikeout king led the league last year with 180⅓ innings pitched over 27 outings, going 10-11 with four complete games and a one-hit shutout against the Orix Buffaloes last May.

He has a 75-58 record with a 3.06 ERA and 1,178 strikeouts over 165 games in six seasons.

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