• Kyodo


Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks closer Dennis Sarfate, who had season-ending hip surgery last April, will begin the 2019 season still undergoing rehab, the team said Saturday.

The 37-year-old right-hander was the Pacific League’s MVP in 2017 when he established an NPB record with 54 saves. He has led the PL in saves three times since joining the Hawks in 2014. Sarfate’s 234 career saves are fourth-most in NPB history.

Sarfate said he has not been able to achieve the velocity on his fastball that he expects and will go back to work so he can return at full strength.

He canceled his next outing on Sunday, which would have been his fourth game during spring training.

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