Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Carp announce Shinji Sasaoka as new manager

Kyodo

The Hiroshima Carp promoted pitching coach Shinji Sasaoka and named him the club’s new manager for the 2020 season on Monday.

The 52-year-old replaces Koichi Ogata, who stepped down after the Central League team finished the regular season in fourth and missed out on a Climax Series playoff spot this season.

“We’ll learn from experience, aim to snatch the (league) title back and devote ourselves to becoming No. 1,” Sasaoka said in a press conference at Mazda Stadium.

Sasaoka, who retired from playing in 2007, rejoined the team to take on the role of farm team pitching coach in 2015. He was promoted to the top team this season.

He is the first former-pitcher-turned-manager for the Carp since Ryohei Hasegawa, whose three-year managerial stint ended in 1967.

As a pitcher for the Carp, with whom he spent all 18 years of his career, Sasaoka was 138-153 with 106 saves and a 3.58 ERA in 570 games.

The Carp’s top pick in the 1989 autumn draft, Sasaoka led the league in wins and ERA in 1991, the year the team clinched the CL pennant. That same year, he won the prestigious Sawamura Award and was named the CL MVP.

Under the guidance of Ogata, the Carp won their third straight CL pennant last season, the first threepeat in franchise history. But this year, they finished fourth in the six-team league standings.