• Kyodo

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Kimiyasu Kudo, the SoftBank Hawks’ five-time Japan Series-winning manager, has stepped down, the Pacific League club said Tuesday, after the team ended the season in fourth and missed the playoffs for the first time in his seven-year tenure.

The 58-year-old guided the Hawks to the PL pennant in 2015, 2017 and 2020, while the team also reached the Japan Series through the playoffs in 2018 and 2019 having finished those regular seasons second. The Hawks won all five Japan Series they played in under Kudo.

Prolonged injury absences by ace Kodai Senga, closer Yuito Mori and slugging infielder Yurisbel Gracial saw the Hawks stutter this season. The club this year suffered a string of eight consecutive losing decisions, its longest skid under Kudo.

A source said the club still rated his record and ability highly and asked him to remain at the helm, but the former Seibu Lions, Hawks, Yomiuri Giants and Yokohama BayStars lefty firmly turned it down.

Kudo will hold a press conference on Wednesday, while second-team manager Hiroshi Fujimoto is expected to be promoted to manage the first team.

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