• Kyodo

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Hanshin Tigers President Kenji Ageshio will step down at the end of the season to take responsibility for a string of new coronavirus infections within the team, the Central League club said Friday.

Three Tigers players tested positive for the virus in March, when teams were practicing without a clear idea of when the postponed season would actually start. Pitcher Shintaro Fujinami ate with a large group at a friends’ house after a minor league practice game.

He and his teammates were the first players in Nippon Professional Baseball to test positive.

In May, when NPB began preparing to open its season, it instructed the teams to establish their own rules to limit infections among players and staff. But when Tigers captain Kento Itohara was among a group of players who tested positive in September, Hanshin revealed he had broken team rules.

The club had permitted dining out only in Nagoya or Hiroshima when in private rooms with four or fewer people for up to two hours.

“We cannot deny the fact that we have troubled the whole baseball world on two occasions,” the 60-year-old Ageshio said.

“I am responsible for all the confusion the team has caused since I took office.”

Ageshio was appointed team president in December 2017. The team has not yet announced a successor.

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