• Kyodo

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Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo, who guided the Pacific League club to five Japan Series titles in six years, plans to resign at the end of this season, a source familiar with the matter said Sunday.

The 58-year-old Kudo is on a two-year contract that expires at the end of the season, his seventh as skipper of the Fukuoka-based Hawks.

SoftBank, currently fourth in the PL, reportedly offered to renew Kudo’s contract, but the manager declined in order to take responsibility for the club underperforming this year.

Among the candidates to replace Kudo is head coach Hiroki Kokubo, a former star Hawks infielder who previously managed Japan’s national team.

Kudo continued the Hawks’ success as a Japanese baseball powerhouse that they had been under his predecessor Koji Akiyama, but the team is struggling to remain in playoff contention this year following a raft of injuries.

Through Saturday, the Hawks were mired in an eight-game losing streak, their longest of Kudo’s tenure.

Asked about his plans ahead of SoftBank’s game against the Orix Buffaloes on Sunday, Kudo said, “There’s nothing I can talk about right now. We’re all still in the middle of a battle.”

Kudo took the Hawks’ reins in 2015 and steered them to the PL pennant and Japan Series crown that year. He led them to two more league pennants and four straight Japan Series titles between 2017 and 2020.

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